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The Big F*cking Academy Leading German!!!

I remember how Arsenal signed Per Mertesacker in August 2011. We had already lost club captain, Cesc Fabregas, and upcoming starlet, Samir Nasri, so things were uneasy at the club, with the fans voicing their displeasure over the club’s failure to even replace the stars that left. This was compounded with an embarrassing 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, and things got so toxic, then Arsene Wenger made his famous trolley dash, signing Andre Santos, Park Chu-Young, Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun (on loan) and Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen.

In his first interview with the club, Mertesacker said that he had an emotional connection to Arsenal and he was very delighted to realize his Arsenal dream:

“When I was young, I visited England with my auntie, as somebody who was football crazy, I simply had to come back with a shirt.’

“I can’t remember why, but I came back with an Arsenal shirt and my brother had a Manchester United one. This affinity has grown over more than 10 years and now the loop closes because I am delighted to finally get to play at a team I always supported and where I always wanted to appear eventually.”


“I think Arsenal had been watching me for a while and had intended to sign me for a while. It was a strange situation for me because it was not clear for a long time what would happen and it dragged out to the very end. After the medical in London, it took until late on deadline day and I was unsure it would work out, but then I was delighted in the end. It is a dream come true.”

Six seasons, 210 appearances, eight goals and four trophies later, it has been officially announced the BFG will become the new Head of Youth Development at the start of the 2018/19 season. This position was vacated by Andries Jonker a couple of months ago, when he decided to try his hands in football management at VFL Wolfsburg.

Arsene Wenger labeled the BFG as an exceptional character that’s a great example to young players and the German was clearly delighted with the announcement,

“This is the start of an exciting new chapter for me and I am delighted that I will be able to stay part of the Arsenal family. This season I will remain fully focused on my job with the team and am looking forward to a successful last season on the pitch. After that, I look forward to the exciting challenge of helping produce young players good enough to play for the Arsenal first team.”

Many fans have had their doubts about Mertesacker’s ability, using his slow pace as a benchmark for his ability as a defender, forgetting that he’s one of the most dominant defenders in the air, possessing the composure of a sniper  and his ability to read the game and make his world famous ‘merteceptions’ are second to none.

For what its worth, his last appearance for the club in the FA Cup final against Chelsea was most accomplished performances I’ve ever witnessed from a defender. Bearing in mind that he had not played a game in ages, it was really astonishing seeing what he did on that famous evening in Wembley. So awesome, that the losing manager, Antonio Conte, had this to say,

“Per Mertesacker for me is a perfect example for any young professional football player,” said Conte.

“What he did today was just a consequence of an unbelievable attitude every day, even if not selected, until the Everton game in the squad. “He played his first game tonight and when he was not selected he worked even harder, which is why I pay a special tribute for him tonight.”

Mertesacker will go into the new campaign, knowing that it’s going to be his last as a football player and Arsenal’s captain. We can only hope it would be another trophy-laden campaign, starting with the Community Shield next month.

I wish him the very best in his new role at the end of the current campaign.


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Good News on Injuries Ahead of Stoke Clash

Image result for mertesacker bellerin

It’s another weekend and I’m looking forward to some Premier League action tomorrow! I know I’d miss most of the Saturday’s games because of a wedding I’m scheduled to attend but that the fun part in being in some BlackBerry groups like Gooner Daily, that would keep you updated all the way. I love that lot!

With the game against Stoke coming up tomorrow in front of the Emirates faithful, the feel good factor is back with the team scoring nine goals in their last two outings. It’s even more fun knowing that a goal can come from any position on the side, which is hugely encouraging, unlike some sides that leave the goalscoring burden for a player or two.

There have been a lot of injuries that disrupted the team this season and one can look no further than the influential Santi Cazorla that had a successful surgery and he’d be looking forward to a full recovery. The optimists believe he could be back in contention as early as March, but knowing Arsenal and the way our injury situation could be, I’d throw caution to the wind and give Santi enough time to recuperate before getting back to full fitness. In his absence, the likes of Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey can do a good job in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield.

There is good news on the injury front as the manager confirmed that Per Mertesacker, Hector Bellerin and the forgotten forward, Danny Welbeck, are back in training, so they will be in contention to join the side ahead of the vigorous festive period where the games come thick and fast. The club’s captain has kicked the ball just once this season, then suffered a knee injury that has sidelined him for the best part of four months, but in Shkodran Mustafi, Gabriel Paulista and the ever-impressive Rob Holding, Mertesacker’s absence hasn’t been felt at all. Many fans even feel that it would be very difficult for the BFG to return to the starting XI. I’m pleased to know that a player of his immense qualities and leadership will be available for selection once again, so the onus is on the manager to find a way to integrate him back to the side. It’s worth noting that the Kostafi combination has been a colossus at the back.

Hector Bellerin is a player that has grown from strength to strength in the team, and his appearance in the Team of the Year last season was a testament of how improved he had been. Since taking the mantle after Matt Debuchy suffered an unfortunate injury, Bellerin has not looked back and he has excelled under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger. He suffered an ankle injury for the Spanish youth side in the last international break, and the team looked to Carl Jenkinson to fill in the void, as Debuchy continued to struggle with fitness. However, the young Englishman suffered ‘confidence issues’ and the boss had resorted to Gabriel to put a shift there while Bellerin works his way back to full fitness. He also signed a new contract recently that would keep him at the club for quite some time, and that news has been taken well by the fans.

On Welbeck, it seems the team has forgotten he exists but he will always be fondly remembered to two iconic moments in his fledgling Arsenal career;

  • The match winning goal in the 2014/15 FA Cup quarterfinal against Manchester United at Old Trafford and
  • That late late header against Leicester City last season in February.

He suffered a knee injury in April and missed Euro 2016, and it must have been hard for the lad seeing his teammate strut their stuff on the pitch, while he spends countless hours with the physios working his way up the fitness chain. Hearing that Welbeck is in training again makes me happy, because he’s a player with very good potential and I’m confident he can actualize it at the Emirates.

A full Stoke preview comes up tomorrow.


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Defenders Linked as Wenger Confirms Mertesacker Injury

It’s evident that Per Mertesacker’s injury is really as bad as we feared with the manager confirming it in a press conference,

“We have bad news on Per Mertesacker. He played in Lens on Friday night, he finished the game and had a little pain on his knee. We found out the next day that it was much more serious than expected. He had surgery yesterday in Germany. It all went well. I know you will ask me for how long he will be out. I don’t know that, it’s months, but I don’t know how long he will be out for.”

Arsenal fans know that when the boss talks this way, we should fear for worst. Take a trip down memory lane in September 2015, when the manager confirmed that Danny Welbeck had gone through a surgery to fix a knee problem. If I can remember clearly, he used the same words ‘I don’t know how long he’d be out for’. We didn’t see that guy Welbz till February 2016 whenhe scored that super header against Leicester.

With Mertesacker reaching the last year of his contract as well as hitting the 30+ mark, things might not pan out too well for the man that is set to be named Arsenal captain. However, Arsenal fans should be happy with Wenger’s quotes of the club looking for experienced center backs in the transfer market to replace the BFG.

Online Sportbooks would be tipping the Gunners to sign a new defender but I’m wondering what odds could surface for that.

Reports surfacing social media is that Arsenal has made an enquiry for Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi. The lad started well in the European Championships but found games hard to come by as the tournament progressed. Mustafi, 24, joined the Mestalla-based outfit two season ago and featured consistently for the club, making 78 appearances in the last two campaigns. In his 12 caps for Germany, he has scored a solitary goal that came against Ukraine in the Euros.

Napoli’s Kalilou Koulibaly has also been mentioned but he’s a defender on high demand with Chelsea also interested in his services. With an imposing height of 6′ 5″, Koulibaly would bring a lot of physicality to the defense and he just off of the back of a brilliant campaign with Napoli.

Arsenal aren’t exactly short on numbers defensively, with Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel Paulista, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers available for selection. Holding is a very raw talent, so is Chambers, while Gabriel hasn’t really progressed as much as we would have liked. Mertesacker’s injury has made signing a new defender a big priority as signing a forward.

Over to you, Arsene


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