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Martinelli on Fire as Arsenal Thump Standard Liege

 

Image result for martinelli standard liege

It was clearly evident that Unai Emery was going to make wholesale changes to the team that put up that shitefest at Old Trafford and with Standard Liege coming to town, the opportunity existed to gain a stronghold of the group. Emi Martinez expectedly deputized in goal while the gaffer handed starts to the recently recovered injury trio, Rob Holding, captain Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney in defense. The out-of-favor Skhodran Mustafi completed the back line. In midfield, Lucas Torreira and Dani Ceballos played behind Chris Willock while Reiss Nelson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles flanked the impressive Gabriel Martinelli in attack.

Following that breathtaking performance against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, I was excited to see what these lads had to offer as most of them in the playing squad are still trying to stake a claim for first team football. The Gunners hit the ground running when some lovely passing play in midfield allowed the ball to get to Tierney on the byline that whipped a cross that was nodded home by Martinelli. For someone so young, you can’t fault his bravery when he’s attempting those headers from killer crosses. If you thought his first goal was good, his second was even better, a sweet curling effort that left the goalie rooted to the spot. That’s four goals in his first two Arsenal starts, which will certainly alleviate Emery’s concerns on a backup striker to provide depth to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Alexandre Lacazette currently injured.

Arsenal looked like they were going to score with pretty much every attack and they were three goals to the good in just 21 minutes when the ball ricocheted off a Standard Liege defender and fell kindly to Joe Willock whose first timed effort hit the bottom corner. That was his third goal this season and many Gooners will be proud to see how our Academy product has acquainted himself well with the big guns and has done really well in his fledgling career thus far. Ceballos put some gloss in the score line in the second half following some brilliant work from Martinelli on the touch line to crown an awesome display from the Gunners.

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Sometimes you just gotta sit back and enjoy some brilliant football on display and these performances go a long way in giving the manager some selection headaches ahead of the grueling Premier League campaign. Emi Martinez may be our longest serving player but he has finally come of age after that impressive loan spell at Reading and he knows that he is capable of pushing Bernd Leno to his limits in his bid to make the #1 jersey is. Leno himself has been very impressive since taking over from Petr Cech but he knows he can’t rest on his laurels.

Defense is one part of the team that needs to be sorted out as the Gunners have kept only one clean sheet in their first seven Premier League games, which is really disappointing. Sead Kolasinac has been decent thus far but with the way Kieran Tierney has been playing, I can’t wait for him to switch roles with the Bosnian, as he’d be the star man in the Premier League while the Tank features in these sort of games. Right back has been a position we have struggled following Bellerin’s long term injury, but Calum Chambers has done very well in the few games he has featured thus far. I really can’t wait for Rob Holding to start featuring in the Premier League but it means that Unai Emery will need to make the hard choice to sending either Sokratis Papastathopoulos or the erratic David Luiz to the bench. Left for me, I’d choose the latter.

Joe Willock has been very decent and for some reason, I’m shocked to see that Ceballos has not yet nailed a place in the first team. That man reminds me of Santi Cazorla’s graciousness on the pitch and his technical skills are up there with the very best in the game. I also love his unpredictability factor that makes him a thorn in the flesh of opposition defenders. With Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi pretty much locked as the double pivot in midfield, there are competition for places with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Torreira in the question.

I’d also want to touch on the performances of the wingers –  Nelson and Maitland-Niles. They played well as you’d expect in a game of this nature, but you can’t help but think that they haven’t still done enough to show that they are ready to nail a first team place, especially Nelson. I was surprised to see the club show some ruthlessness with the departures of Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan but it clearly meant that their exits was to pave the way for Nelson to strut his stuff but he hasn’t really impressed. His shortcomings saw Emery had a chance to Bukayo Saka, and for the winger to be rested against Standard Liege, it clearly means that he’s in contention to earn another starting berth against Bournemouth in the Premier League.

In the end, it was a great game of football and I intend to revel in it for a while before switching focus to the rigors of the Premier League.

Sayonara.

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Will the Real Arsenal Captain Please Stand Up?

Image result for xhaka captain

With the dust settling from the kid’s Carabao Cup heroics, it was time to move to Premier League football with struggling Manchester United next on the Gunners’ trails but there has been a niggling issue that hasn’t been sorted out up until this point of the season – who will be the next Arsenal captain?

We will know how our former captain, Laurent Koscielny, bailed on us for pastures anew, activating his full pettiness to go on strike and boycott the US tour, earning some backlash from the fans and club alike, but with Kos out of the equation, as well as Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey leaving the club as well, it clearly meant that Unai Emery had only two ‘captains’ left from his famous five.

Enter Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil, two players that have donned the armband on different occasions this season, but it was never made official, as everyone waited for the gaffer to make the announcement. I was quite surprised to read Rob Holding’s comments after the 5-0 drubbing of Nottingham Forest, where he confirmed that the players had to vote over who would be their next captain,

“We had a vote the other week so we’ll see what happens and see who gets named. We had to write names down and then give them to the manager. He will go through them obviously with his input and then we’ll see what happens. I don’t know. I think it will be in the next couple of days, or weeks. I have no idea. If I get it, then I’ll be more than happy and honoured to do it.”

It’s kinda awkward but it’s not that strange – that’s players having a vote on who to be the captain rather than the manager just making his decision. I’d read that in Manchester City, the players unanimously voted David Silva to take over from Vincent Kompany as he reaches the September of his career with them, even though as vice captain, it seemed only natural for him to take over.

So those votes have been taken and a decision has been made to name Swiss international, Granit Xhaka, as the permanent captain of the club. (via BBC). It seemed like a reasonable decision because Xhaka has always been captain material, from his Borussia Monchengladbach days (we signed him while he was their captain) as well as the mere fact that he’s also the current captain of his nation, Switzerland.

According to reports, the announcement for the vice-captain isn’t known yet, but the whispers are edging toward one of the deadly striking duo, Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as leading contenders for that role.

With Xhaka named as club captain, we can move on from the drama not having a captain to this point had surfaced, and focus on more important things like preparing to defeat Manchester United. I just hope that we don’t have to read an article where a player would say that he voted to Ozil to be captain but he saw Xhaka on his name as his nomination, then Emery screams, ‘good ebening‘ and says that he signed in small letters.

Sayonara.

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5-Star Youngsters Outclass Nottingham Forest

Image result for martinelli goal nottingham

As expected for any Carabao Cup fixture, Arsenal gaffer, Unai Emery, made wholesale changes to the team that struggled to grab all three points against Aston Villa. Our current longest serving player, Emi Martinez, deputized in place of Bernd Leno as you’d expect, while the forgotten Skhodran Mustafi featured alongside the returning Rob Holding. Calum Chambers retained his place at right back while there was a debut for Kieran Tierney. Gooners had been longing to see the player that made us turn Nacho Monreal into a forgotten memory and boy, it was worth the wait. Out-of-favor Lucas Torreira played in midfield alongside Joe Willock with captain of the night, Mesut Ozil, spearheading the midfield. The three-pronged attack saw Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith-Rowe flank the young Brazilian, Gabriel Martinelli.

The Gunners hit the ground running early on with some superb play and got the goal their game deserved when Chambers’ first timed cross was guided home by Martinelli who scored his first Arsenal goal in his first start for the club. A confidence booster for a young lad that went on to have a stormer. The Gunners were in total control of the game and kept Nottingham at bay but the first half ended with a slender goal lead, with the visitors run ragged all over the place.

There was a four-goal salvo in the second half for the home side with stand-in captain, Holding, rising the highest to nod a corner home to make it two goals to the good. The crowd showed their excitement when Hector Bellerin took to the pitch to replace the impressive Tierney and the Spaniard wasted no time in threading a neat assist to Joe Willock for the Gunners’ third after a neat pass from Mustafi. Nelson got in on the act after reacting well to Chambers’ cut back to make it four then Martinelli put the icing on a well-baked cake with a curling effort to make it 5-0.

All in all, it was a wonderful game of football to watch and these young lads showed that they are ready to stake claims for first team football and with performances like that, you can only help but wonder when they will be given more chances. Thankfully, competitions like the Carabao Cup and Europa League group stages will be a good platform for these lads to strut their stuff while the more experienced folks will do their thing in the Premier League. On the down side, there was an injury sustained by Smith-Rowe following a clash of heads with a Nottingham defender and he required to be stretched out of the pitch to be replaced by another exciting winger, Bukayo Saka.

Emery would have been very satisfied with the performance of these lads and at least, it shows that we have good depth in the club.

Sayonara

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