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Cologne 0 Arsenal 4: A Taste of What’s to Come

After witnessing the Community Shield where Manchester City used their numerical advantage to beat the FA Cup and Champions League double winners *spits* with a jersey no different from Arsenal’s 06′ kit, I waited patiently to see the setup that was going to lock horns with Cologne.

My predicted starting lineup in yesterday’s was a glorious mess in comparison to the team that began the game against Cologne. Vito Mannone was between the sticks and his defense line was guarded by Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker, Kieran Gibbs and Nico Yennaris. The midfield triumvirate was manned by Francis Coquelin, the Ox and Santi Cazorla while the attacking trio was composed of Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and hometown hero, Lukas Podolski.

The first half was a very exciting prospect for more reasons than one. Arsenal fans were very eager to see their new boys in action and Wenger obliged by playing the three of them at the same time. There were also hopeful eyes watching Yennaris who’s tipped to be Bacary Sagna’s deputy (alongside Jenko) and the Coq that has probably been the reason why Arsenal hasn’t signed Yann M’Vila.

Coquelin drifted forward and sent a through ball to Giroud, the forward wasted no time in blasting a first-timed volley that was saved by Timo Horn in his near post. Like Costel Pantillimon when the Gunners played Manchester City in Beijing, Horn was to have the game of his life.

Cazorla’s touches were perfect to say the least and there were some butterflies in my tummy when he tricked the Cologne defense before teeing a cheeky through ball to Walcott. Horn anticipated the winger’s cutback and that threat was evaded.

A corner was lofted into the box by the Ox and the Big F*ckin Giant rose the highest to flick the ball into the six yard box. The Verminator got to the ball to nod home Arsenal’s match opener.

When Wenger signed Giroud, he proudly spoke about the forward’s intelligence and team playing ability. The latter was on display when Walcott flicked the ball to the striker’s path. Giroud cushioned the ball perfectly for Cazorla but the hobbit’s wayward shot was fired straight at Horn for an easy save.

The resulting corner from that attack was removed to safety by the Cologne defense but within seconds, the Ox waltzed with the ball into the box before he was shoved by some clumsy oaf, leaving the ref with no choice but to point to the spot.

Podolski took the spot kick and sent Horn the wrong way to put the Gunners two goals to the good.

As the game progressed, a familiar feeling arrived when Arsenal became the makers of the downfall yet again. With no pressure whatsoever, Coquelin gifted the ball to a Cologne forward that went on a mazy run taking on the entire Arsenal defense before blasting his shot wide. Mannone was rooted to the spot.

In the space of 10 minutes, Giroud had three clear-cut chances that were saved by the impressive Horn. The first was from an Ox cutback (after he executed a brilliant one-two with Walcott), the second was from a Cazorla through ball and the third was a header from point-blank range.

Despite these fluffed chances, Giroud’s predatory presence in the box was assuring and on another day, one of these chances might have crept in.

Mannone showed the kind of form that has made him Arsenal’s third choice goalie when he suffered a lapse in concentration to flap a simple shot over with the aid of his cross bar. Had he been a few inches forward, the ball might have dropped in.

Arsenal ended the half on a high when Gibbs got in behind the defense to supply Podolski with a simple cutback. The forward responded admirably by blasting the ball past Horn to make it three.

Halftime beckoned and there were many satisfied Gooners watching the proceedings in the Rhine-Energie Stadion. The three new signings had blended well with the team as the hobbit pulled the strings in the midfield, OG12 was a predator in the box and Prinz Poldi was as clinical as a surgeon.

The second have saw a large foray of substitutions in every position with the exception of Podolski, who was left on the field with probably the prospect of scoring a hat-trick against his former employers.

Wojciech Szczesny was between the sticks and he was protected by Carl Jenkinson, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny and Andre Santos. Alex Song was the enforcer in the middle of the park, Abou Diaby manned the box-to-box role while Andrey Arshavin played at the tip of the midfield (surprising innit?).

The game eased off as both sides kept possession but Gervinho was suspect for his decision making in the final third yet again. Mathias Lehmann ignited the Cologne crowd when his speculative long-range effort smashed Szczesny’s bar.

The fourth goal arrived in a somewhat perplexing fashion. Gervinho did a neat one-two with Podolski in his half before burning his reserves with a bust of pace. With no one to supply a cutback to, Gervinho fooled the entire Cologne defense by hitting a shot that beat the keeper in his near post. The goal was reminiscent of his strike in the African Cup of Nations semifinal.

In the 68th minute, Podolski received a rousing reception as he left the pitch to be replaced by You-Know-Who, Robin van Persie.

His gray hair was a funny sight I must say, and he lacked that sharpness you’d expect from the Flying Dutchman. Gervinho had more chances to make the scoreline more embarrassing but as expected, his decision-making played a quick one on him yet again.

At the end, it was a befitting way to end the pre-season campaign and to give the Gunners a taste of what’s to come in the forthcoming season.

The quote of the day goes to Bhydemi Brainz,

“If Man Utd bids for RVP, we should offer to swap him for Wayne Rooney. If they reject it, we should tell the Press that we don’t understand why Man Utd doesn’t wanna sell to us.”

Food for thought, Arsene.

Sayonara.

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FC Cologne Preview: A Benchmark for the Forthcoming Campaign

The Olympic Games have been labeled as a big success so far and the world has witnessed so many records smashed to bits by certain talented individuals that have taken the planet by storm. One can look no further that those Jamaican speedsters that have proved to me, and other bewildered folks out there that they actually train with cheetahs.

Lightning Bolt has been a beast on the track but Yohan Blake has given him a run for his money. It was also nice seeing an Arsenal fan, Mo Farah, winning his second gold medal with his 5,000m win.

Farah won with a time of 13 minutes 44 seconds, becoming only the sixth member of an elite group of athletes who have won both long distance events at the same Olympics.

Moving over to football, there are fixtures to look forward to as the day passes by. Manchester City and Chelsea will raise the curtains on the forthcoming campaign with the Community Shield, but every Gooner will be focused on Arsenal’s final pre-season fixture against FC Cologne scheduled for 5pm.

FC Cologne suffered the ignominy of relegation last season, and as expected, they lost a handful of their key players. Lukas Podolski was very influential for them last season, but the defense was no different from a basket with water flowing through. In this context, the water is represented as goals.

The game offers the chance for the German outfit to see their hero one final time before he jets off to London to embark on a new adventure with his new club. I’m pretty sure that this is a game Podolski will relish for a long while.

The squad is in its full capacity with the only exceptions being Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky while Aaron Ramsey will probably get an extended break from his Olympic Games adventure.

The squad has looked really good in training and there have been many smiles as well. Mikel Arteta has stated that the new boys are blending well and he, as a senior player, will do his part in making life easy for them.

Santi Cazorla for instance, is a Spanish lad with no stint in the shores of England, and he’ll certainly be looking to Arteta for guidance on some off the pitch issues. However, he’s tipped to be a monster on the pitch and his versatility will make him a great asset for Arsenal this campaign, as Arteta rightly stated.

Lukas Podolski is a vastly experienced international with over a century of appearances for his motherland. With the presence of the Big Fuckin’ Giant, Per Mertesacker, Prinz Poldi will feel right at home, and there’ll be someone to drink beer with as well as sharing Bavarian jokes while he learns the language.

Well, there’s no point laying any emphasis on Olivier Giroud. The last time I checked, Arsenal has always had its fair share of French contingent, and Giroud knows that he can meet his gaffer or teammates for anything. Just give him the fucking ball, he’ll fucking score.

Today’s game against FC Cologne will give the Gooners a chance to judge the team ahead of the forthcoming campaign because I have a hunch that Wenger is going to start his strongest XI with the Sunderland match beyond the horizon.

I expect Wojciech Szczesny to stand between the sticks in the first half at least. Like his new jersey number indicates, he’s Arsenal’s number One and he showed great signs of improvement last season. It seems as if the want-away goalie duo of Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone are staying afterall, so it’s going to be an interesting showdown for all three goalies.

The central pairing of the defense has more or less picked itself with I and many Gooners out there relishing the prospect of watching Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny forge an impregnable partnership for the forthcoming season. Johan Djourou and Mertesacker will get some action in the second half I presume. Arsene Wenger is certain to be in a dilemma when selecting his fullbacks for today’s game. However, I expect Andre Santos and Francis Coquelin to be selected ahead of Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson.

The midfield has an exciting outlook but I suspect that the regular figureheads will be selected for the game. Alex Song will start in his holding role and he’ll be supported by Arteta in the box-to-box role. Santi Cazorla will be drafted straight into the team to play at the tip of the midfield three, offering a lethal dose of creativity to the attack.

The attacking trio will be tweaked a bit in my opinion. Podolski will be given a chance to grace the home crowd from the start but he has to be content with a place on the left wing. Arsenal’s version of Usain Bolt will hit the ground running from the right but the attack will be spearheaded by the captain, Robin van Persie.

I’m going to watch van Persie closely to study his body language as the game progresses. Despite the fact that his mind is probably focused outside Arsenal, I can hope that he takes a professional approach in today’s game. Olivier Giroud will replace him at half time.

So there you have it,

Szczesny

Coquelin – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Andre Santos

Song – Cazorla – Arteta

Walcott – RvP – Podolski

I’m sure that you’d have preferred a better schematic for the formation but this post is created from my BlackBerry. Sorry about that.

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

Sayonara.

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

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