Blog Archives

Laurent Koscielny Calls Time on his International Career

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So after two long months, I’m back to writing about the club I love so much. As you’d expect from the international break, nothing much has been happening, except Germany and their continues woes post- Ozil. The Netherlands has been a nation on the decline, since they reached the World Cup final in 2010, but Ronald Koeman’s side put the Germans to the sword with three unreplied goals. Even that former Manchester United wasteman, Memphis Depay, was on peek Cristiano Ronaldo mode or something.

The biggest news from an Arsenal perspective is the retirement of club captain, Laurent Koscielny, from international football. Koscielny served his country 51 times, featuring in two European Championships (2012 & 2016) and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. A nasty injury suffered in May cost Koscielny his place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and it must have hurt a lot, watching his countrymen lift the trophy.

He even admitted that it hurt him a lot missing on the mundial, and while a part of him was happy to see them win football’s biggest prize, his more evil side hoped they were eliminated. Typically, you would expect that retiring from his country clearly means that he wants to concentrate on playing regular club football, but it’s not so surprising to know that our captain is itching for a move back to Ligue 1 to as his career reaches its twilight. With the likes of Mustafi, Holding, Chambers, Mavropanos and this season’s new addition, Sokratis, in our ranks, we are quite stacked up with our fair share of centerbacks, but none can make up Koscielny’s experience and leadership.

He is expected to resume action some time in late November / early December and I’m pretty sure that Unai Emery has major plans for his captain this season. In recent seasons, Arsenal captains turned out to be bench warmers as they reached the ends of their careers with the club but I’m certain that such a fate will not befall Koscielny.

I wish him the best as he continues with his long recovery from injury.


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Arsenal Finally have a Balance between Youth and Experience

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For many years in the latter part of Arsene Wenger’s reign as manager of Arsenal, there was a mismatch of players at the club. It was either there too many average players or too many young players. This trend ensured that the North London outfit struggled to compete for the title, as the players available didn’t have the talent, quality and winning mentality on a large scale to see the team over the line.

After Arsenal lost the Champions League Final in 2006, which represented the end of that glorious team of the Invincibles, Arsene Wenger changed the playing philosophy and personnel. He turned to playing young players, but at that time those players matured enough to lead the team to titles, they were sold for a profit. It is not surprising and coincidental that when Arsenal started spending money to buy top quality players, and it ended in ending their trophy drought in 2014 with FA Cup triumph. The building of the Emirates Stadium meant that Wenger didn’t have the funds available to compete with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and latterly, Manchester City.

It’s been 15 years now since Arsenal last won the title, a damning verdict for a team of its stature. Unai Emery has identified major problems and has addressed the issue in the transfer window. He has signed players that will improve the first team, add quality, infuse leadership and most importantly trophy-winning experience. His acquisitions have added balance to the team that needed these personalities after a few years of obscurity.

In the latter stages of the Wenger era, the players just drifted through matches; they were not held accountable for bad results, didn’t have the mental strength needed to win the major trophies and didn’t have a manager that could push them to new levels of play they never thought possible. There are so many young players that need experienced players to guide them. The likes of Cech, Lichtsteiner, Koscielny, Papastathopoulos and Monreal are players that have seen it and done that.

A team needs these blend of old and young players to lead the team to new heights: these old players have one final swansong in their careers while the young ones have the needed experience to become established players. It establishes a cycle of winning at the club. It is what the big teams do to continue winning and challenging for trophies.

The start of the new campaign saw the Gunners take on Manchester City and even though the result was hard to take, the like of Matteo Guendouzi impressed, as we also saw debuts for Sokratis Papathathopoulos, Stephan Lichtsteiner and maverick, Lucas Torreira. A perfect blend of youth and experience to add to a vastly talented squad.

Guest post by Live Arsenal, an Arsenal dedicated website that gives you update about latest news coming from The Emirates Stadium.


A Tale of Kelechi Nwakali and Those Youngsters With Questionable Futures at the Club

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It has been confirmed that Arsenal youngster, Kelechi Nwakali, has joined FC Porto on a one season long, and it’s believed that a clause exists for the Portuguese team to buy the lad out rightly if he impresses in Estadio Dragao. With the likes of club captain, Hector Herrera, Danilo Pereira, Paulinho and Otavio in central midfield, Nwakali will have his work cut out for him and as a fellow Nigerian, I’m hopeful that he would be given a chance to show what he’s made of.

Nwakali came into the limelight following his outstanding performances in the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile, scoring three goals and winning the Golden Ball as Nigeria claimed its fifth title at this level. This was followed with a move to Arsenal in 2016 but as expected, Nwakali has been shipped out on loan for the past three seasons, with two spells in MVV Maastricht and a stint at VVV Venlo. Following his return from his last campaign on loan, Nwakali has been shipped to Porto and I hear that a buy out clause exists this time, which essentially means that he could potentially have a future outside the Emirates despite not kicking the ball for the team.

He’s not alone in this category, as there have been a host of youngsters with questionable futures at the club. Pictures of the players doing their thing in Singapore are all over the internet but there have been some high-profile omissions which include Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Carl Jenkinson, Chuba Akpom and Krystian Bielik. These guys are more or less living on borrowed time.  The Jeff didn’t light any fireworks in Angers, Jenkinson had a good double spell at West Ham but injury hampered his progress in Birmigham, while Akpom has featured in six different clubs on loan and is on the verge of joining Saint Trudien on a permanent basis.

This summer has already seen highly-rated youngsters in the forms of Vlad Dragomir and Yassin Fortune leave the club for pastures anew. Takumo Asano has been shipped to Hannover 96 in Germany and I’m pretty sure he would follow the routes of former Asians like Junichi Inamoto and Park Chu-Young out of the Emirates when his contract is up.

It’s not like the club doesn’t support youth development as we still have the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Kostantinos Mavropanos and new recruit, Matteo Guendouzi plying their trade with the first team and are currently in the Far East. It’s just that football is such an unforgiving sport with the likes of Jack Wilshere – a Gunner through and through moving to West Ham after the gaffer told him that he couldn’t secure first team football for him.

With Per Mertesacker taking the Head of Youth Academy role this season, the onus will be on him to find the NextGen of Arsenal youngsters that could make a claim for first team action.


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