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Arsene Wenger keeps the faith, Farmer Eboue abused and Theo Walcott speaks

Arsenal football in November is reaching its climax and there are three games left in three different competitions. The Gunners will start the trio of games with a home tie against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League before hosting Fulham as they continue their push up the table in the Premier League. A spicy Carling Cup quarterfinal against Manchester City will bring the month to a close.

Shortly after Arsenal’s win at Norwich City, some media Vultures talked to Arsene Wenger concerning post-match issues but questions also arose about his commitment to the club. He replied in his usual coy manner:

“I have a few more years to go, I will stay and that’s it. It was a little sentence if you read well.”

“I can only speak for me – the Club can decide to get rid of me tomorrow morning and I cannot interfere with that decision – but I am totally committed here and I will show you that at the end of the season.”

Wenger has devoted 15 years of his life in service to Arsenal and it has come with great times, good times, bad times, sad times and more recently frustrating times. 🙁 The line about the “club getting rid of him” is unfathomable but it’s not impossible because the fans have been hitting the Board’s gates like battering rams and someday, something will have to give.

Notwithstanding, I can’t imagine Arsene-al without Arsene Wenger and Johan Djourou has also shared this view. Djourou also said that Arsenal needs Wenger to ‘progress’ and even a blind man can actually see the progress Wenger has made with the club. From the improved finances, player potentials achieved, diet changes to the training routines, scintillating style of play and trophies won, the gooners can never forget the role he played in the move to the state-of-the-art pitch called Ashburton Grove, or the Emirates Stadium as our Arab brothers would prefer.

Some Gunners have taken out time to say a word or two to the media Vultures for more reasons than one. Wojciech Szczesny’s rise to glory has really been taken likely by the goalkeeper he usurped and Lukasz Fabianski has started setting his eyes on Arsenal’s exit door and it seems as if Vito Mannone intends to follow suit.

The Italian hasn’t featured for Arsenal this season and the chances of him standing between the sticks for Arsenal this season are slim to none. However, he’s hoping for a loan switch this winter transfer window with the hope of making the deal permanent.

Mikel Arteta is another Gunner that talked to the media Vultures but the focus of his gist was about his confidence in the club’s ability. As expected, the media Vultures brought up their boring clichés about him being Cesc Fabregas’ replacement and he was quick to rubbish those claims:

“If I try and replace Cesc, that’s where it will go wrong. I’ve been here for weeks; he was at Arsenal for eight years, it would be impossible for me to replace him in that sense.”

He also talked about his brief spell in Barcelona’s Mutant Academy (1997) where he learnt how to ‘pass’ the ball from Senior Aliens like Luis Enrique, Rivaldo, Pep Guardiola and Luis Figo. The most vocal Gunner will undoubtedly be Theo Walcott and he spoke about his change of fortunes and massively improved form:

“All people have to look at is the number of assists and chances I have made. I just listen to the manager, my team-mates and they’re happy. That’s the most important thing. And my family as well”.

“I’ve been working hard in training and it’s definitely paying off. You always want to learn and when you have a disappointment like the World Cup, then obviously you want to come back and show people what you want to do.”

Just like Samir Nasri, missing out of the 2010 World Cup unleashed a beast from within and it spurred Walcott on to put up great performances last season that he ended up scoring a personal best of 13 goals and a boatload of assists for Robin van Persie. He also told the media Vultures that van Persie is a world class striker and a great leader. He explained how they love playing with each other and how their troubles with injuries have somewhat connected them on the pitch.

I can’t deny that Walcott and van Persie have built up a telepathic understanding that can be likened to the link between Robert Pires and Ashley Cole in the yesteryear. When Walcott is with the ball on the right hand side, he simply looks for the Flying Dutchman and the rest is history. Just like Arteta, he believes that Arsenal can keep firing.

African Cult hero and diver-in-chief Farmer Emmanuel Eboue was on the end of a very rash reception when his present club Galatasaray locked horns with rivals Besiktas. The Besiktas faithful launched all sorts of football missile-like weaponry on the Farmer, ranging from bottled water containers to cigarette lighters.

Most people believe that the Besiktas crowd had racial motives behind the target practice exercise on Farmer Eboue but it seems as if it has become a norm in the Turkish League. I can remember watching a video of Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos racially abused in his Fenerbahce days and it wasn’t a nice sight if you ask me. I’m pretty sure that Eboue wanted to heed to Sepp Blatter’s ‘splendid’ advice to shake all the Besiktas fans for the racial abuse but there was a game to be played. 😀

The issue of racism has to dealt with on time but with an organization as corrupt as football’s ruling body, one can never know what they’ll come up with. Tomorrow, they’ll probably say that the hierarchy of the club engaged in the racial abuse will pay a certain racial levy to a FIFA executive’s account.

Pathetic lot they are. I once labeled Sepp Blatter as Football’s Gadhafi and I hope that his tenure expires soon enough because the organization is in dire need of change. I still don’t know why they prefer to live in the Stone Ages and fold their arms on the goal-line technology proposal from many football teams.

That’s a wrap folks.


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Udinese preview, Nasri tweets and Farmer Eboue signs for Galatasaray

I’ll start today’s post with the official Arsenal newsletter published yesterday. Arsene Wenger said,

Dear Arsenal supporter,

I thought my players gave a solid performance at Newcastle on Saturday. We were in control of the match and I felt that Newcastle had last season’s 4-4 draw more in their mind than we did because they were organized not to concede goals.

I must say they defended well and made it difficult for us but I felt that we were missing something in the final third and in the speed of our passing. But overall we had a good performance and I can’t remember Newcastle having a clear-cut chance of scoring. We deserve credit for that and I believe that Vermaelen and Koscielny played very well together.

The big talking point came at the end with Gervinho’s sending off and I feel we were harshly punished. We try to play football and sometimes we overreact so we have to take control of that. Idf we have an area to improve on, then that is it.

You will know by now that the club has agreed terms with Barcelona for the transfer of Cesc Fabregas. We have been clear that we didn’t want Cesc to leave and that remains the case. However, we understand Cesc’s desire to move to his hometown club and have now accepted an offer from Barcelona. We want to thank Cesc for his contribution at Arsenal and we wish him success in the future.

The transfer window is still open and we are not scared to spend money if we find the right player. If it is for £2m or £20m we will do it if he adds quality to our squad. We have all our scouts all over the World and we look everywhere.

Thanks for your support”

I’ll write the comment made by Dejiano D’psychic,

“I can’t understand Arsenal fans. He’s an Arsenal legend.

Put yourself in his shoes. Even if you are not a Catalan, would you reject an offer from Barcelona? It’s true that he didn’t win any trophy for six seasons but his eagle-eyed passes pushed Arsenal all the way for these seasons. His assists put him above any other midfielder in Europe’s top five leagues.

Why will you point a finger at him when he played with mediocre strikers like Nicklas Bendtner, Emmanuel Greedybayor, Marouane Chamakh, Carlos Vela and Julio Baptista, who give jaw-dropping misses without doing any justice to his miraculous passes.

The fact remains that 303 games, 57 goals and 100 assists in 8 years is no fluke in a massive club like Arsenal”

Everybody has his or her own views on Cesc Fabregas leaving the club but we have to remember that in his first 7 seasons at Arsenal, he was a cultured professional that did most of his talking on the pitch with his exceptional style of play. His form dipped in his last season at the club and injuries as well as Barcelona took its toll on the player but he still gave his all and I cannot fault that. There are not many players in World football that would be nursing injuries yet they’ll go into the field of play, score two good goals and get injured again.

Fabregas has told the media Vultures that he’ll always be thankful to his ‘second father’ Arsene Wenger after leaving for Planet Catalunya. He said,

“If it was not for him, I would not be here today to live my dream. I will never have enough words to say how grateful I am.

 I’ll always be an Arsenal fan, I will watch them every weekend and I will go back as often as I can. I am so grateful for everything they have done for me. I’m saying a big thank you for their unconditional support during the last eight years and I’ll always carry them in my heart”

When asked about Ramsey he said,

“Aaron’s engine is unbelievable. His final ball will get better and he will be the next star at Arsenal”

…The Udinese game tonight,

“What I love most in this World is playing football and most importantly, best of luck tonight. I’ll be watching. As usual”

As expected, Fabregas still has the best interests of Arsenal in his heart and these quotes have proven it. Nasri on the other hand came under some stick from the Arsenal faithful on the social networking application, Twitter after two recent tweets he wrote. Before yesterday, Nasri’s last tweet was directed at @Persie_Official, van Persie’s Twitter account, sending him birthday wishes when he turned 28.

Nasri tweeted this recently,

“@Nanas08: Congratulations to my mate @cesc4official. I will miss you. World class player and top man.”

Congratulating Fabregas for leaving Arsenal to Barca didn’t really go down well with gooners on Twitter but Nasri added fuel to the fire with his next tweet,

“@Nanas08: I heard what the fans were singing about me on Saturday and it was disrespectful because I’m still an Arsenal player”

He deleted the tweet later but my blog’s timeline went haywire with all tweets directed at Nasri. A huge percentage of the tweets had contents of profanity so I won’t write them down in this post but the gooners shared one voice because they were really pissed with Nasri’s last tweet. How can he have the nerve to call the people that pay to watch him play as well as buy Arsenal’s jersey with his name crested on it disrespectful when he hasn’t shown the club any measure of respect in his pursuit to make his account greener than the skins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

He started by saying that he wanted to see Wenger’s activity in the transfer market. He then flirted with Arsenal’s fiercest rivals after Tottenham but Sir Fergie was having none of it. He also demanded pay-parity with Arsenal’s highest earner but after negotiations, the club decided to heed to his demands yet the _______ part of Nasri’s contract on the table remains blank. Manchester City has offered a whooping £22m for the player but I really hope that Arsenal would say no to the offer but his recent shenanigans brings him closer to an Arsenal exit. Nasri has 387,557 followers on Twitter and he lost a lot of followers after that tweet because many gooners on the blog’s TL tweeted that they had unfollowed him. Arsenal has two weeks to hold onto the player and I hope that Wenger would do what’s best for his Arsenal.

Arsenal’s favorite farmer and African cult hero, Emmanuel Eboue has joined Gatalasaray after agreeing a four year deal with the Turkish giants. Farmer Eboue notched up 214 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 10 goals and supplying 25 assists to his teammates in his 5-year stint at the club. That’s 8 assists short of the great Paul Scholes that managed a meager 33 assists in 17 years of service to Manchester United.

I’m pretty sure if Farmer Eboue had stayed for one more season, he might have had more assists than Scholes but football is a sport where players move for reasons best known to them. The primary lure is money, like Emmanuel Greedybayor’s move to Man City. Others move because they had problems with their present employers (van Persie’s move from Feyernoord), others move for the reasons of the heart (El Capitan) while most move because they weren’t getting enough playing time.

Eboue belongs to the last category and I wish him all the best in his new club. At least they have a Farmer that can dive a lot thereby winning a million and one free kicks for them. I’m pretty sure that Eboue didn’t pass the diving mantle to any other player at Arsenal so I’m suspecting that he invoked the diving spell on his No. 27 jersey. A jersey inherited by his fellow Ivorian Gervinho.

“What else would make Gervinho hit the turf like that in St. James Park on Saturday? It could be the Eboue effect”

Moving over to tonight’s match preview, Arsenal will host Serie A’s Udinese in the first leg of the Champions League play-off and a win will be pivotal to Arsenal’s season ahead. For starters, every potential signing about to join Arsenal would like to play Champions League football and a loss or even a draw today could affect the player’s decision. With high profile midfielders like Jadson and Mata heavily linked with the club, a win tonight might just spice things up. Shakhtar and Valencia are teams that play in the Champions League every year so the players will want to continue the trend.

Udinese lost key players this summer and their squad looks weakened on paper with the only visible threats being Kwadwo Asamoah from midfield and Antonio di Natale in attack. If Gokhan Inler, Cristian Zapata and Alexis Sanchez were still in the mix, it might have been a different ball game but Arsenal should not allow complacency creep in tonight. Asamoah is a good passer of the ball and can be a threat from outside the box because he’s never scared to release a surface-to-goal missile. Di Natale on the other hand can be likened to the third of thermodynamics because he’s,

“A perpetual goal scoring machine of the first kind”

He’s also the most experienced Udinese player at 33 as well as their captain and talisman so he has to be shackled by the Arsenal defense because an away goal for Udinese could go a long way in adding to Arsenal’s present problems.

For team news, Wojciech Szczesny will continue between the sticks while the back line that played against Newcastle will be unchanged. In midfield, Rosicky would have been given another chance to prove to Wenger that an attacking midfielder might not be needed but this cannot happen because he’s injured. This means that Emmanuel Frimpong could make his Champions League debut by playing with Song at the centre while the creative burden will rest on Ramsey’s able shoulders.

Fabregas has talked the lad up and I believe that Ramsey will be a standout performer this season so an assist or two tonight will go a long way in getting the gooners mind off Fabregas.

Gervinho got a red card in the Premier League but he’ll be given a Champions League debut tonight. Walcott will probably get the nod over Arshavin and the attack will be led by Chamakh because of van Persie’s unfortunate red card last season. However, it’s a welcome rest because rVp wasn’t really up to scratch against Newcastle so the rest tonight will ensure that he’ll be revitalized this weekend when Arsenal hosts Liverpool.

My expected lineup should be,

Here’s to our first European game without Fabregas.


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10 players that need to step their game up in the 2011/12 season

The 2010/11 season was a season to forget in Arsenal Football Club. A season that promised so much ended in shambles and the panic button was pressed so hard that it sprang out of the remote control. The club won the 2011 Emirates Cup following a draw with 7-time Champions League winners AC Milan and a 3-2 victory over Celtic. At the start of the New Year, Arsenal was the only club that was still eligible to win every competition football as a port had to offer but disaster struck as the season progressed.

The Gunners had another clear shot of silverware on the 27th of February when they took on Birmingham in Wembley but the game will be remembered for the error that won Birmingham the game after a mix-up between Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal was shown the exit door in the Champions League by Barcelona and Manchester United drove the nail in the club’s FA Cup coffin despite starting the tie with 7 recognized defenders. The Premier League offered the Gunners a chance to end the 6-year trophy drought as well as the 7-year Premier League drought.

The last Arsenal team that won the Premier League did it in grand style as they went to an entire season unbeaten so Wenger’s class of 2011 had it all to do when they were told that victories in their last nine games would have been enough to put their names in history. The last nine games that included: Blackburn (home), Blackpool (Away), Liverpool (Home), Tottenham (Away), Bolton (Away), Manchester United (Home), Stoke Rugby FC (Away), Aston Villa (Home) and Fulham (Away).

With Manchester United competing on three fronts (League, FA Cup and Champions League), Arsenal was expected to have the fresher legs and had the chance to rest because every game was played on Sunday but it wasn’t still enough for the Gunners as they decided to put up a dismal run of form that can be compared with the likes of Wigan, Sunderland and Wolves.

The run started with a bore draw at the Emirates against a Blackburn side that has a goalie that opens the floodgates anytime he plays against Arsenal. Mad Jens Lehmann came back from retirement to be the custodian between the sticks in the 3-1 win at Bloomfield Road against the relegated Blackpool so Arsenal was faced with the “week of destiny” with games coming up against Liverpool, Tottenham and Bolton. With Manchester United making steady progress at the summit of the table, there was no room for error but Farmer Emmanuel Eboue inspired an amazing comeback for Liverpool in the 101st minute after Arsenal had gone ahead in the 98th minute. The spoils were also shared in the North London Derby after an intense battle so Arsenal required a win against Bolton to stay in touch with the leaders.

After conceding a headed goal to loanee Danny Sturridge, Wojciech Szczesny spared Arsenal’s blushes by making a good penalty save before Robin van Persie brought Arsenal back into the game after a neat one-two with Francesc Fabregas. Nasri and Chamakh had the chances to kill the game off but it was Tamir Cohen’s header in the 90th minute that inflicted the final blow in Arsenal’s title aspirations.

The fact that Arsenal lost to a side that was pummeled 5-0 by Stoke Rugby FC wasn’t enough, the defeat also meant that Chelsea had usurped Arsenal to second place as the new challengers for the title and where really close but Manchester United’s character shone through when they needed it the most. I’m very certain if Manchester United or Chelsea were behind Arsenal with 3 points, the match would have ended in a draw or a win for Arsenal’s rivals because the squad’s mentality is very low.

The remaining fixtures were mere formalities so no eyebrows were raised when Manchester City leapfrogged Arsenal to take the final Champions League automatic slot. At the end of the Premier League campaign, Arsenal scored 72 goals and conceded 43 with a final league position of 4th place after amassing 68 points. Some players like Robin van Persie, Jack Wilshere, Samir Nasri, Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna et al could raise their heads high and pat themselves in the back for a brilliant season but I’m going to lay emphasis on 10 Arsenal players that were largely disappointing in the entire campaign and they need to step their game up or face the axe.

Here’s my take on the infamous ten.

10. Manuel Almunia

After doing so well to render mad Jens Lehmann out of business, Manuel Almunia became a shadow of the blonde haired player that took the Premier League by storm and saved a million and one penalties at the Emirates. Anytime the name West Brom will be mentioned while he’s asleep, I’m pretty sure that he’ll scream and start having nightmares because West Brom was the club that sent Almunia’s Arsenal career into oblivion both home and away. Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone are clearly above the Spaniard and he has been heavily linked with a move to Spain or Turkey. I just hope that Arsenal can do its best to get at least £1m for the aging goalie.

9. Denilson Perreira Neves

Even though he has been packaged in a box and has been sent across the Atlantic to his previous employers, Denilson was a false clone of the player that featured in over 50 games for Arsenal in the 2008/09 season. It’s true that Wilshere’s emergence last season limited him to a meager appearances but Denilson was an absolute stinker in 90% of the games he played for Arsenal last season. So bad that he couldn’t even play well against the lowly sides Arsenal faced in the Cup competitions. He was the first player to wave the white flag shortly after the Fulham game and I’m pretty sure that he won’t wear the Red and White ever again.

8. Abou Vassiriki Diaby

In the summer of the 2008/09 season, Abou Diaby was the reason Samir Nasri suffered a broken leg in Austria but he probably got himself acquainted with a female physio working at Arsenal because he spent more times on the treatment table than on the pitch. His appearances were so low than 21 players in the 25-man squad list had more minutes than him. Diaby is a man that plays with a loose nut in his brain and he can be very frustrating to watch at times. So frustrating that a gooner threw his footwear at the television in a public viewing centre in my days at Owerri; a television that did not belong to him.

If Diaby continues in this mold, his Arsenal days will definitely be numbered and he has already started the season with a 10-week layoff thanks to the demons of injury.

7. Tomas Rosicky

“Little Mozart” as he is fondly called in some parts of the World suffered an injury that was more than enough to make him announce his retirement from the beautiful game but he has done really well to fight his ‘enemies’ to stay fit. However, his injury has taken its toll on his football and Rosicky was a fringe player that offered nothing to the club last season. He was afraid to go into any tackle and the goal he missed against Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter final was more than enough to shatter someone’s confidence. TR7 has been okay from the preseason games I’ve watched so far so he’ll have to step his game up because the attacking midfield position is suddenly up for grabs again with the imminent departure of Fabregas and Nasri.

6. Farmer Emmanuel Eboue

Farmer Emmanuel Eboue has had his moments at Arsenal football club. Starting from when he usurped Lauren to become Arsenal’s No. 1 right back to when he scored his first Arsenal goal against Hamburg in the 2006/07 season. From when he scored that belter in the same season against Reading in the Carling Cup till when we was promoted to the position of a right winger after the acquisition of Bacary Sagna. There were times where he turned into a diving specialist to win set pieces for Arsenal, there was also a game where he turned into a pantomime villain against Wigan and he was substituted despite coming on as a sub. Last season, Farmer Eboue was a major disappointment and he dug his own Arsenal grave when the Gunners hosted Liverpool on the 16th of April, 2011 after conceding that penalty thanks to a push on Lucas Leiva. Farmer Eboue has been linked with a move to Galatasaray and it seems as if he’s odds on to complete the move.

5. Sebastien Squillaci

The Squisha (as I prefer to call him) arrived at the shores of London with an amazing trophy haul from his days in France and Spain and the “experienced” tag on his head that was supposed to be a very in teaching the younger ones like Djourou and Koscielny but he turned out to be the right-footed version of Mikael Silvestre. He even lived up to the Legendary No. 18 own goal billing by heading the ball into his own net when Arsenal played Wigan in the last game of 2010. Pascal Cygan (No. 18) did it in his time and Silvestre (No. 18) was the quickest of them all with an own goal on his debut. To be frank, I don’t even want Squillaci to step up his game; I want him to enter the nearest train through the English Channel to play for any French outfit available. Seeing that guy wear the Red and White sends chills down my spine most times because you can never predict the next calamity he’s about to make.

4. Kieran Gibbs

Kieran Gibbs spent a long while out injured two seasons ago when he damaged his metatarsal in the Champions League match against Standard Liege but he wasn’t too impressive when he deputized for Clichy last season with his most glaring mistakes present in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter final. His positioning was questionable and he offered no threat going forward but Clichy’s exit has given him the chance to shine this upcoming season so I hope that he’ll do well to grab the bull by the horns and balls.

3. Nicklas Bendtner

Bendtner scored nine goals for Arsenal last season but the bulk of his goals were scored against lowly sides in the Cup competitions because of his limited chances. He banged in a hattrick against Leyton Orient and he scored a peach of a goal when Arsenal played Ipswich in the Carling Cup semis but Bendtner has decided to call it quits in his fledgling Arsenal career because he feels that he’s good enough to start every game in an Arsenal side that has a Robin van Persie. Many clubs have placed their radars on Bendtner but he still remains an Arsenal player so he’ll have to step his game up if no team decides to buy him again because he has a contract to fulfill.

2. Marouane Chamakh

Last season, Arsenal’s new boy deputized for the injured rVp and B52 and he was in a hot streak with 10 goals in his first 21 appearances but the goals dried up faster than the wells in the Sahara, Kalahari and the Atacama deserts put together with one goal in his remaining matches for Arsenal. He hasn’t impressed yet this preseason but I truly hope that he’ll step his game up because we can’t bank on van Persie to stay fit for an entire season.

1. Andrei Arshavin

With 10 goals and 17 assists to his name last season, people will still ask,

“Why on Earth is Arshavin’s name doing in the same list with Manuel Almunia?”

But the truth is that Arshavin was quite disappointing even if he delivered. He was so disappointing that he lost his place in the starting lineup to Theo Walcott and he didn’t win it back till the season ended. With Nasri going out the way very soon, Arshavin will only have the threat of Gervinho to contend with even though Carlos Vela, Ryo Miyaichi and the Chambered Ox are somewhere in the mix.

I just hope that these Gunners will do well to kill their personal demons and play very well in the upcoming season because Arsene Wenger’s future might just be in their hands.

Going trophyless again after selling key players like Fabregas and Nasri will definitely backfire on Wenger.