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Folarin Balogun Can’t Stop Scoring

Video & remarkable stats as Arsenal's Folarin Balogun nets again for Reims  – 101 Great Goals

Folarin Balogun moved from the Reserve Team to Ligue Un outfit, Reims, on loan last summer and was tasked by his manager, Mikel Arteta, to develop like a man

“Before I moved, the gaffer (Arteta) just wanted me to develop as a man. It was kind of like an open answer and it was for me to interpret what he meant by ‘develop as a man’.

By moving abroad, I’m starting to learn what he meant by that. It doesn’t just mean on the pitch but also off the pitch. I think by the time I go back I’ll be in a better place to compete than I was before I left.

Going on loan is always beneficial, especially for youngsters, as it gives them the opportunity to showcase themselves in a competitive environment, and affects the final decision making of the parent club, on whether to keep the player for the long term, or just ship him off to the highest bidder. 

One lad that has seen the immense benefits of consistent loan spells has been one of our defensive lynchpins, William Saliba. He was sign from St. Etienne with huge fan fare but he wasn’t ready to play for Arsenal as he was relatively raw, so he moved on loan to St. Etienne, OGC Nice and finally, Olympique Marseille, before solidifying his status as one of the mainstays in the Arsenal defense for the foreseeable future. 

Balogun had a loan spell last season with Middlesbrough in the Championship, but it wasn’t really a success from a personal standpoint, as he garnered just three goals in 20 appearances for the club. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette leaving, Balogun must have felt that he would earn a call up to the first team, to deputize behind Eddie Nketiah, but with the acquisition of Gabriel Jesus, he was would remain further down the pecking order.

His loan spell in his current club, Stade de Reims, has been a monumental success, and massive credit has to go to his manager, William Still, for trusting him to lead the line as Balogun has been an ever-present for the French club this season, and his plethora of goals has propelled the club to 11th place thus far.

Balogun made his debut as a substitute in the 4-1 defeat to Olympique Marseille, but he marked the occasion with a goal, which proved to be a consolation on the night for Stade de Reims but a sign of things to come. The debut goal from a cameo appearance earned him a start in the next league game against Clemont Foot which ended in yet another defeat for Reims but Balogun earned a goal from a spot kick. Balogun made it three goals in three games when he scored Reims equalizer in the 1-1 draw with SC Strasbourg. 

Balogun had his first blank in the impressive 1-1 draw against Lyon, playing for an hour before he was subbed off. However, he resumed his scoring run in the fifth game of the campaign against Angers SCO, coming off the bench to score a goal (Reims’ third), as well as supply an assist for his teammate, Alexis Flips, to make it 4-2. That was Reims first win of the campaign and the Arsenal youngster played a role in making it happen. He returned to the starting lineup for the next two games against Toulouse and Monaco (both losses), and he scored his sixth goal of the season in the 2-2 draw with Troyes.

As he continued to feature consistently for Reims, the goals kept flowing. Number seven of the season popped up in the 2-1 win over AJ Auxerre, then he followed this up with the solitary goal in the 1-0 win over Nantes. His hot streak continued with a brace against Stade Rennes, a last minute equalizer against PSG and just yesterday, a magnificent hat-trick against Lorient, taking his tally for the season to 14, which places him at the summit of the Ligue Un’s scoring charts ahead of Kylian Mbappe (13), Terem Moffi, Jonathan David, Wissam Ben Yedder, Alexandre Lacazette and Neymar that are all tied on 12.

These goals will do a lot to Balogun’s confidence and I hope he continues his amazing streak in France. We will continue to monitor his progress and provide updates on the blog.

Sayonara.

Bonus Reading: The Goals Keep Coming for the Flo’

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Midfield Substitution: Jorginho In, Lokonga Out

The winter transfer window is finally over and now, we can concentrate on some sweet football from now till the end of the season. With Arsenal out of both domestic competitions rather prematurely, all hands are on deck as the club aims to win its first Premier League title in 19 years, as well as its first Europa League trophy.

One essential feature any team challenging on all fronts need is squad depth, as last season’s Champions League qualification shortcomings proved so. With Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey suffering major injuries in the tail end of last season, Arsenal lost vital games against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Brighton, before getting some good results, which included a win at Stamford Bridge, but when the going got really tough and results were needed at White Hart Lane and St. James Park, the Gunners failed woefully and settled for a fifth placed finish, despite being odds on favorites to finish fourth.

A new campaign has commenced and the Gunners recruited smartly this season, signing players that have come into the first team and made massive impacts, as well as galvanizing the ones already in the squad. The Gunners were desperately short up front with the acrimonious departures of their usual goal getters, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette – Gabriel Jesus resolved that. Nuno Taveres showed that he was not up to scratch when Tierney got crocked, so getting Oleksandr Zinchenko was a touch of genius. Talk about killing two left back and central midfield birds with one Zinchenstone.

Central midfield, however, remained a problematic position that needed to be addressed, due to the gulf of quality between the first teamers and their deputies. Besides the issue of quality, Granit Xhaka is a fart away from his next undeserved suspension and Partey’s bones are probably made of glass, so the pursuit of Youri Tielemans seemed worthwhile, but the Arsenal hierarchy didn’t get the move over the line. Seeing how efficiently the Gunners signed Porto’s Fabio Vieira out of the blue, it seemed evident that Tielemans wasn’t a priority, or maybe it’s the fact that he could be signed on a Bossman that played a role in the decision making.

With Partey suffering an injury scare in the FA Cup loss to Man City, coupled with the fact that the club confirmed that Mohamed Elneny has gone under the knife to mitigate a niggling issue on his knee, and of course, the underwhelming form of Albert Sambi Lokonga. Signing a central midfielder in the January window was an absolute priority.

With the failed pursuit of Moises Caicedo from Brighton as well as the limited time available, Edu and the recruitment team must be hugely commended for signing an experienced player like Jorginho at such short notice.

Yes, I have my reservations about him as I expressed in yesterday’s post, but he is certainly a stop-gap measure that will hold the fort in the next six months and probably the year after, while the Gunners go hard for Declan Rice this summer.

While I was a bit puzzled by letting Sambi Lokonga go to Crystal Palace on loan with Elneny injured, it is a transfer that makes a lot of reasons. Lokonga has failed to nail a first team berth since he arrived at the club and his performances haven’t also helped his cause. He’s a young lad that needs consistent game time to really develop, like William Saliba, and at this present time, he cannot get that at Arsenal. And finally, he’s going to play under the tutelage of a midfield legend like Patrick Vieira, who can turn him into a beast like Conor Gallagher when he arrived from Chelsea.

With Jorginho arriving, Lokonga departing and Elneny out injured, Arsenal still looks short in the middle, but one can assume that Mikel Arteta is probably seeking short term solutions like deploying Smith-Rowe in central midfield to play the left 8 Xhaka role. The club also has a natural replacement in Zinchenko, who can be deployed there to allow Tierney play as a left back.

So it’s not all doom and gloom.

Jorginho arrives at the club hungry for a new challenge, despite winning major trophies at club and international level. This is the sort of mentality that Gabriel Jesus and Zinchenko rubbed off on the team, so I’m keen to see what the Italian has to offer in his time with the club.

It’s time to return our focus to the football, and all hands will be on deck to continue the winning run in the league, against an Everton side refreshed with Satanball’s ambassador, Sean Dyche.

Sayonara

Arsenal Linked with Jorginho?! – No, Please!

Jorginho: Arsenal seriously considering move for Chelsea midfielder but are  ready to do deal for Brighton's Moises Caicedo | Football News | Sky Sports

Yes, I understand that the injury scare to Thomas Partey, compounded with Mohamed Elneny’s injury and Albert Sambi Lokonga’s shitty form has made Arsenal desperately light in central midfield, but Arsenal can do better than Chelsea’s Jorginho. 

Unfortunately, Arsenal has had two bids for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo turned down, despite the Ecuadorian midfielder pulling a Trossard on his parent team. Brighton’s response to Caicedo’s antics was to give him some ‘time off’ from the team to clear his head, while they continued their business on the pitch, by recently eliminating the current FA Cup holders, Liverpool, from the competition. To a certain degree, you can understand how the upper hierarchy at Brighton feel, especially with the way they lost Trossard, who was one of their most important players, but allowing Caicedo go would set a precedence that they may not recover from. Who would be the next to go to social media to declare an exit? Kaoru Mitoma? Nah, the Japs are too honorable for that.

It is believed that Arsenal is coming back today with a monster third bid for Caicedo, but we have to see how things pan out before the transfer window closes tonight. Has the media linked us with other targets? yes! There have been the Declan Rice whispers and in as much as I love me some Rice and ofada stew, he’s West Ham’s captain, and he will, at the very least, want to steer them away from relegation waters before jumping ship. We were linked with Juventus’ Weston McKennie, but he has already moved to Leeds United on loan, which leaves me with the android Sergi Busquets, Martin ‘Azubuike‘ Zubimendi

For the life of me, I didn’t see Jorginho coming. Not for a long mile, not even over the damn horizon. 

With Chelsea closing in on a Premier League record bid for Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez, Goal.com has reported that Arsenal is considering making a move for the Blue’s midfielder, Jorginho. In recent seasons, Edu and his technical team have done so well with their transfers, and even the genuine targets that were missed like Raphinha and Mykhailo Mudryk, were downright exciting. Which is why I’m genuinely confused with the Gunners linked with Jorginho. 

First things first, the transfer dealings between Chelsea and Arsenal have been nothing to write home about in recent seasons, and one can’t look any further than Willian, that showed up on the shores of North London, and played like a true pensioner, before sodding off to the sunshine at Corinthians. There was also the David Luiz deal that leaves us with mixed emotions, but signing such a washed-up player after losing such an important figurehead like Laurent Koscielny was a bitter pill to swallow. 

Jorginho even rates lower than the Willian deal in my books because he’s expected to come into the team to deputize for Partey. Are you kidding me? I’d rather manage my underwhelming Sambi Lokonga or even draft new boy, Jakub Kiwior, to the holding midfield role before considering that footballer whose only attribute tends to be hoping to the penalty spot before converting the spot kick. Thanks, but no thanks.

To make it worse, Chelsea, in their absolute madness, want us to pay around £15 – £20m for the washed-up midfielder that has only six months left in his contract. A player that they are certain on letting go on a Bosman this summer. 

As an Arsenal supporter, I have an obligation to back the team no matter what, but decisions like this can come back to haunt us. I’m more hopeful for that monster bid for Caicedo, or for Edu to go all Fabio Vieira and Kiwior on us, getting us an unknown holding midfielder from another solar system. 

Hopefully, these links with Jorginho are just a joke, and while I hope it is, its certainly not funny. 

Sayonara.

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