Category Archives: Premier League

Welbeck Shines as Gunners Return to Winning Ways

Arsenal 3-0 Bournemouth

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

The two week break after the international window was very long and we couldn’t wait for the game to right all the wrongs of the last two defeats. The performances against Stoke and Liverpool were shameful to say the least and with the transfer window closed, it was time to focus on the football.

The biggest decision from a selection perspective was the manager’s decision to select Danny Welbeck ahead of Alexis Sanchez, with Alexandre Lacazette, but it was refreshing seeing Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin playing in their preferred positions. In the wake of all that had happened in recent weeks, an early goal was required to settle the nerves and Arsenal got it when Kolasinac connected well with Aaron Ramsey on the left flank before lofting a cross that was guided into the net by Welbeck. I’d say ‘guided’ because Welbeck attempted to use his head but the ball somehow found its way to his shoulders before creeping into the net.

Even though the match opener was somewhat messy, the second goal of the game was a brilliant show of technique as Arsenal’s record signing, Lacazette, latched onto Welbeck’s pass before curling the ball past Asmir Begovic. The Gunners put the game beyond doubt early in the second half when Lacazette won the ball further up the pitch and Ramsey bore down on goal before teeing up Welbeck. As always, the Englishman couldn’t keep his feet on the ground but his finish was emphatic to say the least.

Bournemouth didn’t offer any real threat bar the Jermaine Defoe header that clipped the post with his follow through going wide. There was also a looped header that was tipped over the bar by Petr Cech.

Getting back to winning ways was a huge positive ahead of the next league clash against Chelsea which will be a test of these guys character. The only dark cloud was the hamstring injury suffered by Francis Coquelin, that was certainly one of the players that would have played against FC Cologne on Thursday.

The good times are back and only positive results on the pitch will go a long way to appease the fans.

Sayonara.

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Dick Law Set to Leave: Arsenal Should Find Someone Better, a DoF Perhaps

Many Arsenal fans are familiar with Dick Law, the club’s lead transfer negotiator, but he had other responsibilities. He was given the opportunity to speak at the Somos Football Event on football management, where he offered more clarity on his role at Arsenal,

“If we come down to the manager, his responsibility is operating every area in football. The logistics report to him, first-team coaches, strength and conditioning, medical team and psychology [departments] all report to the manager.”

“The area that I manage is called football operations. My job is to help the CEO and manager, in conjunction with the contract team, with squad planning, contract negotiations, negotiations with agents, player transfers, either in or out of the club, and coordination with the Arsenal academy.”

“I work very closely with our chief financial officer, our general counsel (the lawyer for the club) and our club secretary in the contract team. Our biggest challenge is to make sure that all the contracts are done right and we follow all the rules set by the FA and FIFA.”

The Telegraph has reported that Dick Law is set to leave the club at the end of the month, after many years of service to Arsenal. It’s rumored that he’s leaving for ‘personal reasons’ and would be traveling to the United States of America. With club CEO, Ivan Gazidis, getting himself an office in the club’s London Colney training ground, it can be assumed that he wants to stay closer to the club, running its day to day dealings, unlike the club’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, that probably drinking a beer in some ranch in the United States.

Arsenal has recently employed Huss Fahmy, a former Team Sky legal advisor and commercial expert, but his primary focus has been to negotiate player contracts, which hasn’t panned out to well I guess. He, Wenger and the Arsenal hierarchy clearly had no plans to renew the deals of Yaya Sanogo, Kieran Gibbs and Wojciech Szczesny, and they departed for pastures anew. He offered Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a humogous salary believed to be around £180,000 per week, but the Englishman opted not to sign the deal and left for Liverpool. Word on the street is that he’s currently earning around £120,000. Then of course, there is the ongoing protracted saga of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. You can add Jack Wilshere somewhere in that mix. Do your job, Fahmy!

Some bookies are tipping Fahmy to take up the role that would be vacated by Law at the end of the month, but you’d be hoping they can win every bet been placed. With the new Premier League transfer rules of the window closing before the first game week taking shape next season, Arsenal will have to find someone that can conduct good business early and tactically, bearing in mind we could lose the likes of Sanchez and Ozil on a Bosman (Do your freaking job Fahmy!).

Law will be fondly remembered for being the guy that negotiated with the La Liga giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona, for the acquisitions of Ozil and Sanchez respectively, and it has been an absolute pleasure watching both players don the famous Red and White, even it seems like their watch is ending this season. Yes, they have had their frustrating moments in the club but it would be a big task replacing two players that have given the club a combined amount of 104 goals in 309 appearances. Law also brought Alexandre Lacazette to the team this summer after intense negotiations with Jean-Michel Aulas and his Olympique Lyonnais hordes.

While we can laud Law and the transfer negotiation team for selling a want-away player with a year left on his contract for £40 million (and one pound probably) to Liverpool, the fans feel the club could have done better for the sales of Gibbs (£7m), Szczesny (£11m) and even Gabriel Paulista (£10m). I also felt the club did poorly in handling the transfer of Lucas Perez to Deportivo on loan.

His departure would have a hole in the club and I hope plans are ongoing to get a replacement as soon as possible. His exit would be hugely felt by Arsene Wenger, who was a close companion to Law. They worked in very close quarters with Wenger and Law reaching agreements on pretty much everything before Law takes the Wenger gospel to the team we want to negotiate with. There were some that worked out fine, others, well, meh.

I’m in the opinion that Law’s exit should pave the way for a Director of Football. Someone that will conduct transfer business without asking Wenger all the intricacies involved in negotiating for the player. I want someone that would hear “Sch-” from Wenger then go on to buy Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin and even Scherzinger Nicole for good measure!

I know Wenger doesn’t fancy the idea of a DoF but it’s something Arsenal really needs. We can’t continue working with the same old methods that are in dire need of change. Over to you, Gazidis.

Thanks for your years of service Dick. Wishing you the very best in your future endeavors.

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In the End, Money Prevailed Over Football

Image result for wenger gazidis

Following what was one of the most disastrous campaigns last season that ended with a silver lining in winning the FA Cup, one most have thought that Arsene Wenger, Ivan Gazidis and Stan Kroenke would have braced themselves for a busy summer, getting the quality required to improve and sorting the niggling issues that required attention, like the contract situation of some of the squad’s key personnel.

The transfer window saw a whopping £1.3 billion spent among the 20 Premier League teams and with three games gone already, the table has started taking shape with the Gunners struggling in a lowly 16th place. As early as June 6, 2017, the Gunners announced the signing of Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer from Schalke 04, with the Bosnian defender winning a place in the Bundesliga XI for being the best leftback in the competition.

Image result for kolasinac joins arsenal

With Roberto Di Matteo playing a three-man defense, Kolasinac flourished in the left wing back role, scoring three goals and creating five assists for his teammates. With Nacho Monreal aging and Kieran Gibbs badly regressing, he ticked all the boxes for a long term move, and the fans lauded the boss for a smart summer move.

But it wasn’t enough. There were other positions on the team that needed to be beefed up and the club still had to sort out the futures of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Yaya Sanogo and a host of others.

Three days after Kolasinac arrived, the club waved its goodbyes to one Reserve forward, the great Yaya Sanogo (Toulouse) and three Reserve defenders, Stefan O’ Connor (Newcastle), Kostas Pileas (Anorthosi Famagusta) and Kris da Graca (Goteborg). Yeah, there will always be a couple of youngsters that wouldn’t make the grade at the club, so it’s always nice to let go of them, especially when you’re sure you don’t have long-term plans for them but I was sure surprised when Chris Willock packed his bags and went to SL Benfica on a Bosman at the end of June.

That didn’t matter because five days later, Arsenal broke their transfer record for Alexandre Lacazette and there were positive vibes in the Goonersphere. We knew about Lacazette for quite some time and we were very happy to land a forward with such a profilic goal record from France.

Image result for lacazette joins arsenal

We had needed a new forward for quite sometime and in Lacazatte, we had a forward that could incite fear in opposition defenses, or so we thought, till the manager decided to do his thing and bench him for you know, Danny Welbeck. Ok, I digress.

Following Lacazette’s capture, youngster Kaylen Hinds joined our former Academy boss, Dries Jonker, at Wolfsburg, then more youngsters, Glen Kamara (Dundee) and Dan Crowley (Willem II) were shipped out. The speculation surrounding Wojciech Szczesny’s future was confirmed as he joined Juventus to understudy the legendary Buffon and take over when he retires at the end of this season. The rest of July went past and there was no more activity. Just the usual rumors and speculations here and there.

August stepped in and this time, we had the distraction of the Premier League in addition to the usual transfer shenanigans and meanwhile, we were still at crossroads concerning those players that needed their futures sorted out. The performance against Leicester wasn’t utterly convincing but we got three points and moved on. Just before we visited the Bet365 Stadium to play Stoke, we surprisingly sold Gabriel Paulista to Valencia. Yeah, he didn’t convince many but he was a good squad player at best, and many believed that his sale was going to pave way for a better center half. Virgil van Dijk perhaps.

The loss at Stoke was hard to take, but we still imagined it was a lesson to the manager, letting him know that a central midfielder would be needed as Granit Xhaka had a shocker of a performance. Three more youngsters, Ismael Bennacer (Empoli), Savvas Mourgos (Norwich) and Jon Toral (Hull) were shipped out before the Gunners visited Anfield to take a thrashing from Liverpool.

A day before the transfer deadline day, Arsenal stalwart, Kieran Gibbs, joined West Brom after failing to agree terms with Watford and on transfer deadline day, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Liverpool while Donyell Malen completed his move to PSV Eindhoven.

In summary, the Gunners spent £46.5m on Lacazette and Kolasinac (free) and made up to £74m from the sales of five first team players and 12 Reserves, which clearly signifies that there is more money in the club’s coffers for Uncle Scrooge Stan Kroenke and his folks to sleep on. One would have expected Arsene Wenger of all people to know that the team still needed improvement on certain areas but as usual, the team has fall short and we are heading into the campaign with the same lads that bottled things up in the Premier League to the extent they couldn’t even meet the barest minimum last season, which was Champions League qualification.

There is no Arsenal fan that would look at this transfer window and not feel some sort of disappointment. There were targets there for the taking but it just seemed difficult for the club to sign some players sometimes. Even the Lacazette deal seemed like it wasn’t going to work out at some point with Lyon president, Jean-Michel Aulas making it clear that Lacazette was already on his way to Atletico Madrid before they were hit with that transfer ban that made the deal fall through.

Then there was the pathetic failed pursuit of Thomas Lemar as Arsenal seemed like the only team that couldn’t reach a sort of agreement with AS Monaco. In the same transfer window the club lost Bernardo Silva, Valere Germain, Corentin Jean, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy and even football’s most coveted prized asset, Kylian Mbappe, it was evident that Lemar would have been an Arsenal man if the right price was offered. Not those paltry bids from the club.

I guess we have to make do with the squad but when you think of how some of the players in the team have under-performed under Wenger, you can only feel gloomy about the campaign ahead of us. Three games in, the Gunners are already on crisis mode, but in the end, it was money that prevailed over football.

Sayonara.

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