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Harry Kane Does it for North London

Harry Kane breaks Tottenham scoring record with goal vs Man City - Futbol  on FanNation

On Saturday morning, I had started the draft for the Everton game with the title, Everton Preview: Beware of Satanball, but I decided to go join them frustrating long queues for fuel. To make things worse, there was some marathon in Lagos, so most of the roads were blocked, leaving me with no choice but to stream the Everton vs Arsenal game on my phone, and we all know how it panned out – Satanball prevailed.

This meant that Arsenal’s lead at the top of the table was potentially going to be cut down to two points if Man City got a good result against the same Spurs side that they battered some 17 days ago. I remember watching that City vs Spurs game at the Etihad, I was elated when Antonio Conte’s side went two up, but I just had a feeling that they were going to bottle it, as they always do. They didn’t fail to disappoint as Pep Guardiola’s side ran riot in the second half, smashing four goals past the Lilywhites.

Yesterday was different though. For some strange reason, Man City’s record at Spurs’ home ground has been downright pathetic – five losses from five games, without any goal scored, which is shocking for a team of Man City’s caliber and talent at their disposal. So when Tottenham got that early goal from Harry Kane, which turned to smash a host of records or some shit like that, I thought about the Man City record away at Spurs and was hoping for history to repeat itself.

There was the Riyad Mahrez curler that clipped the cross bar, as well as the Cristian Romero red card that put the home side on the backfoot, but Spurs held on for a vital win that has put them in touching distance with the Top four, after Newcastle had yet another draw. That’s 10 draws in 21 games for the Magpies, which will certainly dent their Champions League qualification ambitions and aspirations.

That Man City loss courtesy of the Harry Kane goal puts them five points behind Arsenal, which makes the clash between both sides in mid-February monumental. Man City have certainly lost that aura of invincibility they used to have and when Arsenal visited the Etihad in the FA Cup, the gulf in quality between both sides had changed. It’s not like they are equals per se, but the Gunners are in a way better place than they were last season, and they can go into their home game against Man City with some measure of confidence.

However, the Gunners can’t afford to have any more blips like this, and all hands are on deck for the Brentford game at home before Man City come to town.

Many thanks to Harry Kane, for doing it for all of North London.

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Everton 1-0 Arsenal: Satanball Prevails

Premier League: Arsenal suffers second defeat of season after Tarkowski goal  guides Everton to win - Sportstar

Match Report – Match Highlights  Post-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Everton 1-0 Arsenal (Tarkowski 60′)

Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; White (Tomiyasu 85′), Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Partey (Jorginho 59′), Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard (F. Vieira 77′), Martinelli (Trossard 59′); Nketiah

To be honest, I was somewhat concerned when Everton fired the hapless Frank Lampard and hired Satanball’s finest ambassador, Sean Dyche. In his Burnley days, Dyche had a very good record against Arsenal, and his brand of football, widely known as Satanball, worked wonders against certain opposition, till it took its toll on its personnel, which eventually led to their relegation last season, and Dyche’s dismissal. Since signing Vincent Kompany from Anderlecht, Burnley now plays exciting football and are odds on to return to the Premier League, as the Clarets sit pretty at the top of the EFL Championship with 65 points.

There was also the issue of the most publicized ‘new manager bounce’, so Arsenal had to be at their very best to see out this new look Everton side that had enough time over the FA Cup break to blend to Dyche’s Satanball style. Goodison Park has also not been a happy ground for Mikel Arteta, as the Arsenal boss had suffered three defeats in four outings, so the stars had aligned in the direction Arsenal weren’t hoping for.

The game itself was a mess, with Everton executing Dyche’s Satanball plan, looping the ball in the air with every chance and putting up combative outlays in the middle of the park, with the Ginger-haired Satanball squire fielding Idrissa Gueye, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Amadou Onana in midfield. Thomas Partey didn’t seem to look his best, as it was evident that he was still suffering the effects of his rib injury suffered in the FA Cup defeat to Man City, but in general, the players didn’t show up to the party at all. The usually exciting Martin Odegaard had an off day and failed to connect well with his teammates, and when he had a chance to put the ball at the back of the net from a cut back, he skied the ball hopelessly. Eddie Nketiah fed on scraps and couldn’t really cope with the physicality of the game, as one of Satanball’s strong points is to press opponents hard and bully them as much as possible. However, Nketiah had a good chance when he was fed by Saka on the edge of the box but he blasted his shot to Row Z. 

Which brings me to the goal that eventually settled the tie. Everton had a total of seven corners in the game, and they pretty much all had the same template – float it high in the sky towards the far post, then use the physical presence of the big lads to attack the ball, and hope for the best, I guess. Arsenal struggled to deal with the set pieces and there was an inevitability about the fact that the goal could potentially come from a corner, and it didn’t disappoint as it was a goal made in Burnley with Dwight McNeil lofting the ball for James Tarkowski to score his first league goal for the club. Watching the replay made me feel disgusted, as Odegaard was clearly no match for Tarkowski, and with the big lads like Gabriel and William Saliba marking other goons, the Arsenal captain could have done a better job. 

Not having any player on the posts didn’t help at all, because planting a player in that location would have seen him stop the incoming header, just like how Conor Coady was on hand to stop Bukayo Saka’s goal-bound shot that had gone past Jordon Pickford. Oleksandr Zinchenko was his usual vibrant self and trying to make things happen, but it wasn’t to be, as he clearly forgot his shooting boots at home. There was a wonderful chance Saka created to Zinchenko at the edge of the box from a corner, but the Ukrainian fired wide off the mark. 

Since the defeat against Manchester United in September 2022, Arsenal had gone on a 13-game unbeaten streak, drawing just two games against Southampton and Newcastle, so to see the team lose to a team that was in the trenches was painful to watch, but we have to dust ourselves up and move forward to the next game, which is against Brentford next week Saturday.

Irrespective of what happens in the Spurs vs. Man City game today, the Elephant will still remain on top of the tree. 

Sayonara.

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Folarin Balogun Can’t Stop Scoring

Video & remarkable stats as Arsenal's Folarin Balogun nets again for Reims  – 101 Great Goals

Folarin Balogun moved from the Reserve Team to Ligue Un outfit, Reims, on loan last summer and was tasked by his manager, Mikel Arteta, to develop like a man

“Before I moved, the gaffer (Arteta) just wanted me to develop as a man. It was kind of like an open answer and it was for me to interpret what he meant by ‘develop as a man’.

By moving abroad, I’m starting to learn what he meant by that. It doesn’t just mean on the pitch but also off the pitch. I think by the time I go back I’ll be in a better place to compete than I was before I left.

Going on loan is always beneficial, especially for youngsters, as it gives them the opportunity to showcase themselves in a competitive environment, and affects the final decision making of the parent club, on whether to keep the player for the long term, or just ship him off to the highest bidder. 

One lad that has seen the immense benefits of consistent loan spells has been one of our defensive lynchpins, William Saliba. He was sign from St. Etienne with huge fan fare but he wasn’t ready to play for Arsenal as he was relatively raw, so he moved on loan to St. Etienne, OGC Nice and finally, Olympique Marseille, before solidifying his status as one of the mainstays in the Arsenal defense for the foreseeable future. 

Balogun had a loan spell last season with Middlesbrough in the Championship, but it wasn’t really a success from a personal standpoint, as he garnered just three goals in 20 appearances for the club. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette leaving, Balogun must have felt that he would earn a call up to the first team, to deputize behind Eddie Nketiah, but with the acquisition of Gabriel Jesus, he was would remain further down the pecking order.

His loan spell in his current club, Stade de Reims, has been a monumental success, and massive credit has to go to his manager, William Still, for trusting him to lead the line as Balogun has been an ever-present for the French club this season, and his plethora of goals has propelled the club to 11th place thus far.

Balogun made his debut as a substitute in the 4-1 defeat to Olympique Marseille, but he marked the occasion with a goal, which proved to be a consolation on the night for Stade de Reims but a sign of things to come. The debut goal from a cameo appearance earned him a start in the next league game against Clemont Foot which ended in yet another defeat for Reims but Balogun earned a goal from a spot kick. Balogun made it three goals in three games when he scored Reims equalizer in the 1-1 draw with SC Strasbourg. 

Balogun had his first blank in the impressive 1-1 draw against Lyon, playing for an hour before he was subbed off. However, he resumed his scoring run in the fifth game of the campaign against Angers SCO, coming off the bench to score a goal (Reims’ third), as well as supply an assist for his teammate, Alexis Flips, to make it 4-2. That was Reims first win of the campaign and the Arsenal youngster played a role in making it happen. He returned to the starting lineup for the next two games against Toulouse and Monaco (both losses), and he scored his sixth goal of the season in the 2-2 draw with Troyes.

As he continued to feature consistently for Reims, the goals kept flowing. Number seven of the season popped up in the 2-1 win over AJ Auxerre, then he followed this up with the solitary goal in the 1-0 win over Nantes. His hot streak continued with a brace against Stade Rennes, a last minute equalizer against PSG and just yesterday, a magnificent hat-trick against Lorient, taking his tally for the season to 14, which places him at the summit of the Ligue Un’s scoring charts ahead of Kylian Mbappe (13), Terem Moffi, Jonathan David, Wissam Ben Yedder, Alexandre Lacazette and Neymar that are all tied on 12.

These goals will do a lot to Balogun’s confidence and I hope he continues his amazing streak in France. We will continue to monitor his progress and provide updates on the blog.

Sayonara.

Bonus Reading: The Goals Keep Coming for the Flo’

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