I must really apologize for my lack of consistency in recent times. Work has been overwhelming as always and there’s no one to hold the fort, but hey, I’d live.
Gooner Daily has been with me for the last eight years and it’s been great serving you with fresh content concerning the greatest club in the world. Enough about me, and my boring stories of not blogging regularly as well as subtly looking for available sport writers to assist a Gooner.
It’s been a great World Cup for a neutral like me but it was pretty sad to see how my Nigeria failed to come to the party against Croatia. However, that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the spectacle while playing some fantasy football while I’m at it.
VAR has taken center stage and I have been impressed with the way it has been handled so far. Referees are not ashamed to seek the opinion of their VARs and I also love how they go to watch the clips which aids in better decision making. However, there have been loads of penalties so far and I think we have reached double figures on that stat.
I feel sad for Mohamed Elneny and of course, everyone’s sweetheart, Mo Salah, as their loss to the hosts last night ended their dreams of qualification to the next round. All they have will be a dead rubber match against fellow Arabs, Saudi Arabia, in a game where pride will be at stake. At least, Elneny will get an extended break when he returns to England with his shiny #4 jersey.
Moving over to things Arsenally in nature, it has become evident that we will no longer have Jack Wilshere with us after he confirmed that he will be leaving the club when his contract expires at the end of the month. I really loved how he was mature about the whole thing and he made it clear that it was after his discussions with the new manager that he made his decision to leave the club for pastures anew.
I have some very fond Wilshere memories, from when he broke out in 2010/11, winning the Young Player of the Year award to that amazing goal against Norwich in the 2013/14 season. The injuries were well publicized but Wilshere was and will always be a Gunner through and through. A player of his talent will surely have several offers and I’m sure he will make the best decision for himself and his family.
Good bye Jack and thanks for the memories.
Moving on from sad memories to happier ones, the club announced the arrival of Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen. Arsenal needed massive improvement in the goalkeeping department and I’ve very delighted that Unai Emery identified this gap with the Arsenal hierarchy and closed it.
For all Petr Cech has done since his arrival from Chelsea, he showed his frailties last season and we suffered terribly from his shortcomings as well as the entire defense, but he’s reaching the twilight of his career and it’s time for a younger and energetic goalie to take his place.
Leno’s arrival will clearly mean that it’s the end of the road for David Ospina but the stories surfacing that Napoli want Cech, the Colombian shot stopper might still hang around for a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s linked to another move to Turkey, as he has been in the past three seasons or so.
I’m bracing myself for another round of World Cup games and I hope to enjoy them.
Arsenal are set to make the announcements of new signings, Skhodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez but Wenger confirmed in his last press conference that a player or two would leave on loan, rather than on permanent basis. After leaving the Gunners to join Sporting CP on loan, Joel Campbell made his debut in the 2-1 win against FC Porto. 101 Great Goals have posted some of his personal highlights of the game for those interested.
With the capture of Mustafi, the journos asked the manager about the future of Calum Chambers as he was going further down the pecking order in the heart of Arsenal’s defense. It’s bad enough that Rob Holding has axed him out of the team despite injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista, but Chambers has not covered himself in glory, following that torrid start to the season against Liverpool. Yes, he might have scored a goal on the day, but his defensive performance was questionable, and fans can agree that losing his place in the team to Holding was justified.
With the manager confirming that Chambers was leaving on loan, there were many clubs that were mentioned but according to the Independent, Middlesbrough emerged as the favorites and have secured the lad on loan for the entire season. Will Chambers be able to break into the Boro team? Maybe, maybe not but he’s worth monitoring and with Boro in the Premier League, Chambers development can only get better. He arrived at the club with some hype surrounding him and he did well with some early season performances but he suffered a roasting from Jefferson Montero at the Liberty Stadium and things haven’t worked out too well for him since then.
A move to a club like Boro will be good for the lad. At least, he will get away from the spotlight and can concentrate on regular football, which is what he would be hoping for.
I wish him the best at the Riverside and I will be monitoring his progress.
So I saw some tweets on social media about the possibility of Arsenal sending Jack Wilshere on loan and I took it with a pinch of salt but when Sky Sports and other reputable columns carried the story, I had a rethink. Is Arsenal really considering sending one of its favorite, if not its favorite sons, Jack Wilshere, out on loan?
First of all, why would Arsenal even consider the possibility of sending Wilshere out on loan? Is it because of Sam Allardyce’s comments on the lad that he should get regular football before he earns a place in the England squad? Is that what it’s about? Being concerned about Wilshere making the national team, rather than the team that has stuck with him through the countless injuries and what have you?
From a footballing standpoint, I think it’s a rookie move from the club because Wilshere is one of the most unique players in the squad. There is no one else that can offer us his lung-bursting runs and sleek style of play that sees him break opposition defenses with consummate ease. I know many have been concerned about his injury record and are unhappy that he can’t be relied upon to stay fit but it’s Arsenal – injuries have become a way of life here.
Look at the captain, Mertesacker, that spent the entire holidays drinking beer and watching Germany at the Euros before their exit in the semis to France. He was meant to be one of our fittest players in the preseason but after featuring against RC Lens, it was reported that he picked up a knee problem in the game (something we didn’t see in the course of the game) and bam, he was out for five plus months after a successful surgery.
Wilshere adds depth to the squad and can deputize in two playing positions, the attacking midfield role manned by Mesut Ozil and the box-to-box role currently deployed to Santi Cazorla. According to England, he can feature as a holding midfielder but I’m not convinced by his abilities there. The bottom line is that Wilshere is a player that would have his chance in the team and he hasn’t Debuchyed yet.
I just hope the news is false because it wouldn’t make any sense sending Wilshere out on loan.
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The thing about tournaments like this is that when the football starts rolling, it never stops. It took forever for France to hit the ground running with the match opener against Romania but things kicked off yesterday with our new boy, Granit Xhaka, locking horn against his brother, Taulant, as Switzerland played Albania. Another former Gunner, Johan Djourou, was part of the Swiss squad that that gained victory in a rather tough encounter.
The game featured a lot of hard tackling and the things you’d wish for in a football game. Xhaka admitted that it was bizarre coming up against his brother,
“It was a very special moment for my family, it was rather bizarre,” he said, after being named Man of the Match.
“I think we played very well, we gave everything for our country and we’re very happy. Maybe me a little bit more!
“We knew it would be a difficult game, Albania are a great side, very compact and solid. We wanted to score as early as possible.
“There was a lot of pressure on our shoulders but it was great that me and my brother pushed back our limits. I don’t think anyone can hold anything against us. We fought against one another, and it was a football match, nothing more.”
Xhaka had an awesome game, creating three chances, winning five aerial duels, completing close to a century of passes and having 129 touches to his name. This earned him the man of the match award.
Switzerland’s victory brings them level on points with hosts, France, as both teams are doing their bit to take ownership of that group. Xhaka’s next game is against Romania on the 15th of June.
Moving over to the next game that had some Arsenal focus, Aaron Ramsey and his Welsh Dragons came up against Slovakia to open up the football in Group B. Chris Coleman played 3-5-2 that switched to 5-3-2 when the Welsh were defending and it was a no brainer when the scoreline was opened that the man that literally brought the Welsh to the competition, Gareth Bale. The Slovaks leveled the tie from a bloke called Duda.
Ramsey had a glorious opportunity to pull another goal back for the Welsh when he was left unmarked in the box but his header glanced over the bar. Then there was the counter attack for Wales that saw Bale cover quite some ground with his raw reserves of pace but after feeding Ramsey, the chance went begging, much to everyone’s dismay.
Ramsey saved the best for last as he had the decisive touch late on for Hal Robson-Kanu whose scrappy effort skipped past Kozacik to give the Welsh all three points.
Finally, England clashed with Russia for the last game of the day but there was some crowd trouble before and after the game. The game itself saw Russia do more of the defending but England failed to take advantage of the chances afforded to them. However, Tottenham’s Eric Dier, an unlikely source, curled in a lovely effort that breezed past Igor Akinfeev. Right at the death, a late effort from Vasili Berezutski halted England’s hopes of going level with Wales, which makes the encounter with the Welsh very tasty.
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