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Kolasinac Injured, Nketiah Stays and Au-ban Upheld

Kolasinac injury

Sead Kolasinac has had his fair share of injuries since he joined the club, and this disrupted his chances of nailing a first team berth in the league. He had a consistent run out at the start of this season following Kieran Tierney injury problems and the club’s decision to offload Mr. Consistency himself, Nacho Monreal to Real Sociedad. 

Kolasinac managed to feature in 14 Premier League games, creating two assists for his teammates, but with Tierney suffering yet another injury that sidelined him till March, Kolasinac expected to continue his good run of games in the side, supporting his team from the left flank. However, the Bosnian is set to miss this weekend’s game against Sheffield United due to a thigh strain,

With the crucial clash against Chelsea coming just two days after the Sheffield game, we would not expect Kolasinac to start that game. His injury will give a chance for Bukayo Saka to feature as a make-shift full back, a position the youngster is not too comfortable with. 

Speaking of youngsters, Eddie Nketiah expected to make a loan move to Bristol City, after we wondered what the future held for him. His manager, Mikel Arteta, got a glimpse of him in recent training sessions and concluded that he will stay at the club for the rest of the season, rather than a loan spell for more match experience.

There are mixed feelings on the club’s decision to keep Nketiah for the remainder of the campaign. On one end, it was essential to give a talented youngster some much needed game time, as he did not play as much as expected in Leeds United, before the loan spell was recalled. On the other hand, Aubameyang’s suspension and Alexandre Lacazette’s poor form must have forced the manager’s hand to keep Nketiah.

The Gunners were hopeful that Aubameyang’s ban would be reduced, but the FA confirmed that he will serve his three-match suspension. This is a major setback to the club as the Gunners will have to cope without their talisman for the next three games. 

Sayonara

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Aubameyang: Can Arsenal Cope Without His Goals?

 

Aubameyang red card

Aubameyang getting sent off at Selhurst Park

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang received his marching orders in the 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace and this has brought some despair to the Arsenal faithful, as the Gunners depend on their talisman for his goal scoring feats. 

For those that might care to ask: how dependent is Arsenal on Aubameyang?

His WhoScored.com statistics show that he scored 16 goals from 26 appearances this season. The table below gives a more detailed outlook of the importance of his 16 goals so far this season.

GOAL # OPPONENT (SCORELINE) AFTER HIS GOAL FINAL SCORES IMPACT POINTS GAINED
1 Newcastle (EPL) 0 – (1) 0 – 1 Match winner 3
2 Burnley (EPL) (2) – 1 2 – 1 Match winner 3
3 Tottenham (EPL) (2) – 2 2 – 2 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
4, 5 Watford (EPL) 0 – (1), 0 – (2) 2 – 2 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a draw 1
6 Eintracht Frankfurt (Europa) 0 – (3) 0 – 3 Consolation goal 3
7 Aston Villa (EPL) (3) – 2 3 – 2 Match winner 3
8 Manchester United (EPL) 1 – (1) 1 – 1 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
9 Wolves (EPL) (1) – 0 1 – 1 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a draw 1
10 Eintracht Frankfurt (Europa) (1) – 0 1 – 2 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a loss 0
11, 12 Norwich (EPL) 1 – (1), 2 – (2) 2 – 2 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
13 West Ham (EPL) 1 – (3) 1 – 3 Consolation goal 3
14 Bournemouth (EPL) 1 – (1) 1 – 1 Equalizer to salvage draw 1
15 Chelsea (EPL) (1) – 0 1 – 2 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a loss 0
16 Crystal Palace (EPL) (1) – 0 1 – 1 Goals enough to win game, poor defending turned it into a draw 1

These are mind blowing stats especially when you consider that Arsenal has had 28 points from 22 league games this season, but Aubameyang has been directly involved in 19 points.

Behind him is the exciting Gabriel Martinelli with eight goals, disappointing Alexandre Lacazette with six, underwhelming club-record signing, Nicolas Pepe, with five and fledgling Joe Willock with four. Five players (David Luiz, Reiss Nelson, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Bukayo Saka and Lucas Torreira) have two goals, while another five players (Dani Ceballos, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Shkodran Mustafi) have one. 

I decided to use this opportunity to dig through seasons past, so as to understand the concept of Arsenal’s goal scorers in previous campaigns

SEASON TOP THREE SCORERS
2011/12 Robin van Persie (37), Theo Walcott (11), Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun, Thomas Vermaelen (6)
2012/13 Theo Walcott (21), Olivier Giroud (17), Lukas Podolski (16)
2013/14 Olivier Giroud (22), Aaron Ramsey (16), Lukas Podolski (12)
2014/15 Alexis Sanchez (25), Olivier Giroud (19), Aaron Ramsey (10)
2015/16 Olivier Giroud (24), Alexis Sanchez (17), Theo Walcott (9)
2016/17 Alexis Sanchez (30), Theo Walcott (19), Olivier Giroud (16)
2017/18 Alexandre Lacazette (17), Aaron Ramsey (11) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Danny Welbeck (10)
2018/19 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (31), Alexandre Lacazette (19), Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey (6)

Like seasons past, there would always be that one alpha dog in Arsenal’s attack blasting in all the goals, but he must always get adequate support from his teammates. 

The manager has called on the rest of the squad to step up the plate with Aubameyang unavailable for the next three games,

“Losing probably the most important player is never nice. We have other players that can play in that position. We will try to find a way and be as competitive as possible.

They now have to make a step forward now he is not able to contribute to the team with goals. Someone else has to do it and I want to see that reaction too.”

Some may feel that I am harsh with my descriptions of Lacazette and Pepe, but like many Arsenal fans, I expected a whole lot more from them this season. Lacazette came off a 19-goal campaign last season and the fans wanted him to replicate that form, especially with him missing out on the World Cup last summer but he had an ankle injury that ruled him out for the early parts of the season. Nicolas Pepe on the other hand, has been adapting to the new league, but the patience of the fans is running thin, even though we remain hopeful that his form improves.

Gabriel Martinelli has scored more goals than Pepe and Lacazette despite featuring in a lesser amount of games, so I am excited to see what he has in store for us in the next three games. From the games he has featured, you can see his hunger, zeal and drive to make something happen any time he gets the ball at his feet. 

I am also hopeful that we get a couple of goals from midfield, even though the current lot in the starting XI haven’t shown any encouraging attacking returns all season long. Mesut Ozil is not a regular goalscorer but at least he chips in a few from time to time. He will certainly want to improve in 2020, as he had a record low for both goal and assists last year. Granit Xhaka on the other hand, blasts in those surface-to-goal piledrivers but he has not drifted forward too much in the campaign. 

The reality of the situation is that Arsenal will be without Aubameyang for the games against Sheffield United, Chelsea and Bournemouth. The Gunners hierarchy are appealing for a reduced ban, but we can’t rely on the FA to give them what they are hoping for.

Let’s just hope the players have what it takes to make up for his absence through suspension.

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Players with Expiring Contracts: Sell, Renew or Release?

Players - Arsenal

Both players contracts expire in 2021

Players within the current Arsenal setup will reach that point when the manager, Mikel Arteta, will make the decision on whether to renew their current deals, release them on a free transfer or sell them without batting an eyelid.

Arsenal, like every well run business oriented football club, handed contracts to certain individuals with the aim of enhancing their chances of winning trophies but as we all know, it does not work out every time for some of these lads. Gooner Daily takes a look at those players with deals expiring in 18 months’ time and provide some thoughts on whether the club’s stance should be to renew their contracts, release them or sell them to new employers.

Dani Ceballos: 17 apps, one goal (2020)

Losing a player like Aaron Ramsey was a bitter pill to swallow for every Arsenal fan, especially with the fact that he does not feature on a consistent basis for Juventus. Raul Sanllehi pushed some strings and Arsenal signed Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid, which came with some good buzz and fanfare.

We witnessed him dazzle crowds for his nation, Spain, in the Under-21 European Championships, and he even took the number vacated by Ramsey, so we expected much from him. Bar the Burnley game early in the season where he shone like a bright star, Ceballos struggled for fitness making him a liability to the club, than an asset.

Ceballos

Ceballos celebrating his only goal for the Gunners

We still have five months left in the campaign and the fans expect him to contribute to the cause but he has been an underwhelming signing thus far.

Verdict: Release 

Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 61 apps, five goals (2021)

At 31, Sokratis enjoyed a career where he featured in Greece (Apollon Petalidiou, GS Niki Volou and AEK Athens) before he moved to Italy to play for Genoa and AC Milan. The Italian adventure ended a decade ago, as he went to seek green pastures in SV Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund before Arsenal came calling last season.

Since his arrival at the club, he has had his good moments and loads of shaky ones as well, but Arsenal fans can not beat their chest in confidence to say that they have an awesome defender in him. With the exciting William Saliba returning to the club after his loan spell at St. Etienne expires this summer, folks know that Sokratis would live on borrowed time, till the inevitable happens at the end of the 2020/21 season.

Did I tell you that I loved his run out as a right back in the FA Cup clash against Leeds?

Verdict: Release

Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 59 apps, nine goals (2021)

Where to start? Oh yes! The worst swap deal in football history, to Arsenal and Manchester United fans at least. We believed that the talent and ability was there for all to see. This was the same lad that scored 41 goals and created 38 assists in three seasons at Borussia Dortmund.

Players Arsenal Mkhitaryan

We thought they would forge a good partnership

What we got instead was an inconsistent and underwhelming player that sat on his fat pay check and did not contribute as expected. Heck, Arsenal even sold Alex Iwobi to Everton and preferred to give Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith-Rowe run outs in the team, while shipping Mkhitaryan off to AS Roma on transfer deadline day.

I have thrown more light on the Mkhitaryan issue in a an article I published at Gunners Town.

Verdict: Sell (but not for that paltry €10m Roma offered us)

Shkodran Mustafi: 125 apps, five goals (2021)

No need to waste any comments here!

Verdict: Sell with a thanks for buying hamper for good measure 

David Luiz: 22 apps, one goal (2021)

Arsenal did not resume this season with any plans of buying a player from Chelsea, especially David Luiz, that had lost his starting berth in the team to the younger and more exuberant defenders like Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori. The club’s captain, Laurent Koscielny, for reasons best known to Lord Voldemort, Darth Vader and Chuck Norris, bailed out of the club he served for nine years, leaving us in the lurch.

With Rob Holding injured, we had just Calum Chambers, Mustafi and Sokratis as the only available defenders for the campaign and those numbers were short by all standards. In what I, and many fans would regard as a surprise, Arsenal snapped up David Luiz from Chelsea.

We are already aware of his limitations as a player, and we commend him for the decent shift he has put this season but we are certain he would not be a Gunner beyond next season.

Verdict: Release

Mesut Ozil: 246 apps, 43 goals (2021)

Mesut Ozil continues to remain a divisive figure at the club but in recent times, his fortunes changed, especially with Mikel Arteta making him the hub of the team. I know that since he signed that whooping £350,000 per week deal in January 2018, the jury was out for him to perform wonders in the team but it ended in disappointment.

However, I see a different beast in Ozil and we are odds on to see him come back to his best under the tutelage of the new inspiring gaffer.

Verdict: Renew

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 90 apps, 56 goals (2021)

“I would also like to react to some of the rumors going around about me in the media.”

“People like making up stories and they should focus on what’s happening on the pitch. They talk too much and it does my head in!

“I am the Arsenal captain, I love this club, I am committed to it and desperate to bring it back to the top, where it belongs.”

Quotes from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the year of our Lord, 2020.

Verdict: Renew

Sayonara.

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