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Laurent Koscielny’s Injury Update and Arsene Wenger Plays Down AC Milan’s Title Chances

Jenko's new hairdo

After watching Arsenal bow out valiantly from the Champions League Knockout Phase, I was faced with the grueling task of boring myself for the best part of 90 minutes watching the only team carrying “England’s flag” in the competition.

Chelsea came up against a side with so many skillful and technical players that they were better off playing football on the “streets” instead of the green grass. Like a classic tale of the Three Little Pigs, Big Bad Benfica huffed and puffed but they couldn’t “blow” Chelsea’s house away.

The match clincher arrived when Ramires the Great Lizard made one of his trademark aimless surging runs only to get clattered by some bloke, El Flop-ino picked up the pieces and sent a cross to Asamoah Gyan…Cabo Snoop…Salomon Kalou, who dispatched his effort with consummate ease.

In the other quarterfinal, those expecting a shock result were made to go back home empty-handed as Real Madrid strolled past this year’s surprise package, APOEL Nicosia.

Still sticking with the Champions League, Arsene Wenger has stated that AC Milan has no realistic chance of lifting the trophy this season. Arsenal’s gaffer said that he knows Milan “very well” but they are not up to the task as they face a daunting challenge in the form of the emperors of modern-day football, FC Barcelona.

He also joked about the condition of their pitch, labeling it as a disaster when his team came around for the Italian Job in February. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion on issues like this, but I’m indifferent. If Milan pulls off a very against Barcelona, the world as I know it won’t come to an end.

Moving over to Arsenal news, Carl Jenkinson has earned a place in the spotlight following his recent “controversial” hairstyle he unveiled when Arsenal hosted Tottenham at the Emirates. The youngster has had a fledgling career understudying the consistent Bacary Sagna but a stress fracture in his back sidelined him for a large chunk of the season.

Arsenal.com released a special report on Jenkinson’s Mohican haircut with razor-thin sides. In the special report, his teammates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Robin van Persie voiced their concerns about the hair-do but Jenkinson defended his decision stating that he let his hairdresser “do what he wants”.

The Ox says that it’s getting out of control while van Persie quoted:

“We all want to help him. We have the slight feeling that this hair is a bad influence on the team, or maybe it’s a good influence since everyone is having a laugh”

Judging from the recent pictures of Jenkinson’s hair-do, I must say that I’ve seen worse. If you label Jenko’s hairstyle as controversial, what will you say about Marouane Fellaini’s Lice Haven, or Joey Barton’s Nazi-like hair-do.

However, I strongly believe that I could sharpen my knife with Marek Hamsik’s tomahawk hair-do.

The standout players in the hair malfunction business will certainly be the entire TP Mazempe side that showcased their talents in the 2009 Club World Cup.

Last season, a relatively unknown center back joined Arsenal from FC Lorient for £8.25m. With the long-term absense of Thomas Vermaelen courtesy of an Achilles tendon injury, he and the much-maligned Johan Djourou forged a very strong understanding and earned a catchy joint nickname, Djourcielny.

The way his career has turned around is a massive fairytale. Five years ago, he was plying his trade in Tours FC, a Ligue 2 outfit. In his second season at Tours FC, he was an ever-present figure, missing only four league appearances and he earned a place in the Ligue 2 Team of the Year at the end of that season.

FC Lorient snatched him up for €1.7m and he was also a regular starter in the mid-table outfit, amassing a 100% tackle rating. With the exits of Mercenary Gallas, Phillippe Senderos and Mikael Silvestre, Arsene Wenger offered this lad a chance to play top flight football on a consistent basis.

He notched up 43 appearances in his first season at Arsenal and even got on the scoresheet three times. His account opener was in the 6-0 mauling of Blackpool, his next was a solid header against Ipswich and his last and most important, was the match winner against Everton in February 2011.

He has also received two red cards in Arsenal colors, the first on his debut against Liverpool and the other for a professional foul on Nile Ranger when Newcastle visited the Emirates.

The lowest point of his Arsenal career will undoubtedly be that infamous cock-up he had with Wojciech Szczesny in the Carling Cup final but he had an excellent season for Arsenal by his standards.

Koscielny has grown in confidence and ability this season and he has become a contender for the Player of the Season alongside Alex Song and everyone’s favorite, Robin van Persie.

Having missed last weekend’s win over Aston Villa suffering from tendinitis, there is some positive news on his knee, so there’s no Kos for concern. Koscielny remains confident of facing QPR but I hope he doesn’t play for two reasons.

The first being that he’s not fully fit and his replacement Johan Djourou didn’t put a foot wrong against Aston Villa. The second and most important reason is that Koscielny is a yellow card away from getting a two-match ban, and we have Manchester City lurking around the horizon.

That’s today’s bit.

Sayonara.

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Post-Milan Hangover and Arsenal Agree Deal For Lukas Podolski

If and only if...

In recent years, Arsenal fans have become accustomed to seeing their team falter and capitulate in the business end of the season but Tuesday’s Champions League defeat against AC Milan on aggregate left a sweet taste on my mouth, unlike the usual sour taste an Arsenal loss brings.

A thousand and one positives can be taken from that game ranging from the attack-minded formation deployed by Arsene Wenger from the start to the performances of the 11 warriors with the exception of the ineffectual substitutes that were summoned into the pitch after the gods of injuries struck twice.

“Anyone who even thinks of blaming Robin van Persie for missing a gilt-edged change yesterday in the second half will get one right in the solar plexus from me. Go in for an immediate retina scan, good sirs, for you hath not watched this season properly.” – Nicks Pink Boots

Like the aftermath of a classic hangover after a night out of “intoxicating” football, The Gunners have been engaging themselves with the Media Vultures for more reasons than one. Starting from the sticks, Wojciech Szczesny has stated that Andres Villas-Boa Constrictor’s dismissal was as a result of the Chelsea old hags cabal and he has taunted Tottenham’s European chances.

The prospect of St. Totteringham’s day is like a little light shining on a dark tunnel and not every light on the end of a tunnel can be a good thing, it could be a train heading straight at you. On the issue of AVB losing his job, I’ll let you all know when I care.

Thomas Vermaelen spoke about going all out for to ensure Champions League qualification next year while Tomas Rosicky lauded his team mates following a breath-taking and enthralling encounter. Little Mozart rolled back the years to produce a scintillating display that has more or less earned him a new contract extension and a possible coaching role in the near future.

One Gunner that has earned plaudits after another dominant display is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He’s not just Arsenal’s future, he’s the present and the future. The Ox created Arsenal’s third goal after he was scythed down in the box by that rookie Algerian left back and Antonio Nocerino.

The Premier League’s greatest striker Alan Shearer has tipped the Ox to play for England in Euro 2012:

“Let’s face it, he was playing an experienced AC Milan side last night and was probably one of the best players on the pitch, which bodes well for England. It’s a similar situation to Theo Walcott but I’d say he probably looks more comfortable then Theo did when he was at that age.

“If he keeps on improving then why not take him?”

Liverpool great, Graeme Souness also sang sweet tunes about the Ox and he has also tipped the young lad for greatness. I tend to wonder if the world would have seen the Ox if Gervinho and Chamakh didn’t leave for the African Cup of Nations in January.

Still sticking with tales in the wake of the post-Milan hangover, reports are emerging again that Arsene Wenger could receive sanctions from UEFA for the third time this year. He probably had a thing or two to say about the match official after the game and the suit-wearing chums at Europe’s football governing body aren’t cool with it.

Elsewhere, AC Milan is still in shock after Arsenal swept them aside and their goalie Christian Abbiati has hailed his reaction save against Robin van Persie. With all the pre-match shenanigans involving Zlatan Ibrahimovic telling the world how he shunned Arsenal and Maxi Allegri giving Wenger some “friendly advice” on signing players in order to win trophies, Milan were one goal away from being in hot soup.

I guess Milan would have to make sure they turn their pitch to a ground fit enough to rear cattle in they want to win their quarter final home tie. At least, it worked perfectly well against Arsenal.

After all the whispers from fans and Media Vultures alike, Arsenal has finally agreed a deal to sign Cologne’s Lukas Podolski this summer. He had agreed personal terms a few days ago and many were skeptical about him joining Arsenal because they felt that a massive transfer fee would be the hindrance.

Cologne initially slapped an £18m price tag on their key asset but a series of negotiations occurred and both teams have settled for £10.9m, a classic Arsenal signing fee. The club is set to hand the German international a four-year deal worth over £100,000 per week.

I’m pretty sure that his compatriot Per Mertesacker had a hand in the move because the Gentle Giant unveiled that Podolski sent him a few text messages and he told the chap that Arsenal is a great club. Podolski has only reiterated that he’s not joining the club for the greens, but he wants to develop his career.

To whom it may concern,

Here are five reasons why Lukas Podolski should be a Gunner.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal 3 AC Milan 0: The Rossoneri withstands Arsenal’s barrage

There was a uphill task at the start of the game from an Arsenal perspective. Overturn a massive four-goal deficit suffered a fortnight ago in Italy.

Arsenal showed positive intent with a very attacking lineup and it paid dividends when Laurent Koscielny was on the end of a perfect Oxlade-Chamberlain corner to put Arsenal one up with just six minutes gone.

Theo Walcott was giving AC Milan’s left back a torrid and he did well to find Robin van Persie in behind the defense. His right-footed drive was blocked by Christian Abbiati in goal.

Gervinho ran at the defense before teeing up Van Persie. Arsenal’s talisman steadied the ball for himself before curling a superb shot but Abbiati did well to parry the shot.

Walcott made another run at the defense but his cross was poorly cleared by Thiago Silva. The ball arrived at Tomas Rosicky’s feet and the Czech captain slotted in his second ever Champions League goal for Arsenal. His first ever goal came in his Champions League debut against Hamburg six years ago.

The Ox made another jinking run that caused more problems for the AC Milan defense and he compounded their misery by winning a penalty. Robin van Persie stepped up to send Abbiati the wrong way.

Stephan El Sharaawy had the chance to kill off the contest late in the first half but he sent his effort wide.

At halftime, Arsenal was a goal away from making history so the next goal was going to be the most important.

Arsenal threw caution to the wind in the second half and the tempo reduced a bit. However, Wojciech Szczesny almost gifted AC Milan a goal on a platter when his poor distribution found Zlatan Ibrahimovic but was wasn’t punished for it.

Arsenal’s proposed moment of glory almost arrived when Gervinho found some space on the left hand side. His shot was deflected off a defender but Abbiati was on hand to make a great reaction save. The follow-up arrived on van Persie’s feet but he chose the wrong option of a cheeky lob with the goal at his mercy.

The Ox tweaked his hammy and lacked the sharpness he showed in the first half. He was replaced by Marouane Chamakh.

The miss of the match came from Antonio Nocerino from an Alberto Aquilani pass. Aquilani drilled a great through pass to Nocerino but he chose to use the outside of his foot and it was saved by Szczesny.

Late on, Walcott picked up a knock and was replaced by Arsenal’s peripheral signing, Park Chu-Young. Right at the death, Alex Song had a lot of players to tee up but he wanted to give his trademark “pass of life” but he misplaced the pass much to the disgust of Arsene Wenger, his team mates and the fans.

At the sound of the final whistle, it was a very great effort by Arsene Wenger’s men but it wasn’t good enough to seal qualification to the quarter finals.

Szczesny (8.0) put up a good performance but he almost messed it up with his shaky distribution.

Sagna (7.5) balanced his attacking and defensive play well.

Gibbs (7.0) put up another good shift on the left. He’ll certainly give Andre Santos a run for his money.

Koscielny (8.5) scored the early goal that sparked a revival and was a colossus in defense.

Vermaelen (8.5) was a beast at the back and was more than a handful for Zlatan.

Song (7.5) protected his back line well but he was a bit sloppy with his passing.

Rosicky (9.0) was immense in attack and was ubiquitous on the pitch. Good to see the old Rosicky back.

The Ox (8.0) was very direct in the first half but eased out after sustaining an injury.

Walcott (7.5) was a constant thorn in the flesh of the full back but his decision making cost him dearly in some vital moments.

Gervinho (7.0) didn’t really stamp his authority on the game but he did okay.

Van Persie (8.0) would have had four goals on the night but he had to settle for one from 12 yards.

Chamakh and Park didn’t play long enough to get ratings.

Arsenal put up a valiant display in the first half and fizzled out a bit in the second. Nonetheless, it was a great performance and a lot of positives have to be taken.

Arsenal has an entire week to recuperate in time to play Newcastle and with every Cup distraction out of the way, all focus must be aimed at finishing strongly in the league this season.

#iBelieveinArsenal.

The quote of the week goes to Amyenah Dzeko,

“@amyenah: Rosicky’s face is still haunting me. He looked devastated. I wanted to get out there and give him a hug and tell him that he’s a legend.”

It’s time to hand Little Mozart that contract extension he deserves.

Sayonara

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

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