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Lessons learnt from the Gunners on international duty

As one of the superpowers of European and world football, Arsenal is among the clubs that has a lot of players that are essential pieces of their jigsaw puzzle. Arsenal had a good number of ambassadors in last summer’s World Cup but Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner were the only Gunners that got on the score sheet.

Interlulls are always scheduled to come in between club fixtures and this one was no different. There are times you wish that the international break shouldn’t come by especially when you’re in great form while their other times when you want it to come soon enough.

Arsenal is currently going through a bad spell and the international break has provided Arsene Wenger with enough time to go back to his drawing board to cook up new tactics as well as to inject a new approach to his side because this present Arsenal squad is in dire need of change.

Change can come in form of a new formation such as the reliable 4-4-2 that almost propelled Arsenal to the Premier League title in the 2007/08 season before William Gallas’ antics coupled with those hopeless draws closed the curtain on Arsenal’s Premier League hopes. Tomas Rosicky and Aliaksandr Hleb provided wit on the flanks while Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini the Flanimal forged an extremely good understanding in the middle of the park.

Arsenal has wingers that can do with Rosicky and Hleb did back in the days but leaving Alex Song and any other creative midfielder like Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta or Yossi Benayoun would mean that Robin van Persie will play with a strike partner and I’m pretty sure that it would be welcomed by the Arsenal faithful.

Change can also come in form an injection of a defensive coach to the club’s current staff because it’s fair to say that there are many men in Arsenal that defend like toddlers. I was very impressed with the six-man defensive outlook Arsenal used in their box when defending corners when they played Newcastle in August but Wenger failed to stick with that tactic and his team has been duly punished.

A change in Arsenal’s fortunes is something that everyone has been praying for because the way the injuries, suspensions and ill-luck pile up can only be likened from the hands of Loki himself.

Arsenal sent some ambassadors to represent their nations last weekend as well as tonight while some will get the final piece of international action tomorrow before returning to London to play Sunderland on Saturday.

Park Chu-Young proved again that he could be a beast in front of goal and he’s one player that deserves a run out in the club. We also know that Park CY has told everyone that he has only two years to spend with Arsenal before representing the Korean Army and he says that he wants to end his stay in Europe with a flourish so employing the 4-4-2 tactic with him and RVP could bring devastating results for Arsenal.

Aaron Ramsey has shown the world how he can lead by example and he has always been vocal about his high hopes for Wales. Gary Speed’s present side has some household names and the future is bright for that footballing nation with the likes of Ramsey and Bale the Chimp spearheading its football affairs.

Robin van Persie has shown the gooners that it’s not every time he represents Holland that he ends up with a mysterious injury. He also showed his adeptness on the right wing and his sleek and deft touches were vital for Holland but it wasn’t enough as their 100% record with shattered to bits by Sweden in Rasunda.

Laurent Koscielny’s continuous wait for his French debut should have sent a clear message to him that there’s still hope for the bloke to join Poland but the decision still rests with him. He really showed everyone last season that Arsene Wenger knows a bargain when he sees one. He still has a thing or two to learn though.

Johan Djourou missed out on his nation’s qualifier against Wales through suspension but it’s funny to see how he has gone back to the number four slot in Arsenal’s defense after showing so much promise last season. He had a stinker against Blackburn but I’m sure that he won’t dwell on it.

Per Mertesacker used his enormous height to great effect when Germany played Turkey but I was disappointed that it wasn’t exploited in White Hart Lane despite Wenger’s attempt to give him that Samba-esque role but I’ll point my finger at the remaining 10 teammates that were tasked with floating the ball up for him.

Arshavin wasn’t really a peripheral figure when Russia beat Slovakia but Arshavin is a player that really needs to step up for Arsenal because his place is seriously under threat. Gervinho has usurped him from a starting berth on the left wing and he also has the potential threat of Ryo Miyaichi to contend with.

Lukasz Fabianski showed signs of rustiness when Poland played Korea Republic but he’ll get another bite on the cherry when Poland play Belarus. It’s really interesting to know that Fabianski and Szczesny are fighting for a place in both club and country but I tend to wonder what happened to Artur Boruc because he was the next best thing after the great Jerzy Dudek.

Tomas Rosicky showed off the moves that made people call him the Little Mozart and I certainly hope that the trend will continue in Arsenal. Tomas used to command a first team shirt for Arsenal when he arrived from Dortmund but his hamstring injury paved the way for others and he has really struggled to get his place. It’s more shocking to know that he can’t still get a place even after Francesca and Samantha left the club.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave Wenger a lot to think about following his brilliant hattrick but it’s also heartwarming to know that he can offer Arsenal some hope from the bench when the chips are down.

Marouane Chamakh scored for Morocco to seal their qualification to the African Cup of Nations after a four-year absence but he hasn’t been able to recapture the form of his first five months at Arsenal where he scored 10 goals in 21 appearances. I hope he gets his act right soon enough.

Gervinho was suspect for being very selfish in his recent Arsenal matches but he provided an assist for a former Gunner/junkie Kolo Toure. Yao Kouassi has been a big hit at Arsenal and I hope that Sunderland will be on the end of his trickery and hopefully goals.

Theo Walcott’s assist for Young showed how massively he has improved over the turn of the year. It’s really awkward to know that Fabio Hitler selected the One-Dimensional Lennon and the winger whose name is taller than him, Short Wright-Philips above Theo but England’s loss was Arsenal’s gain because it unleashed the beast within. Nasri also unleashed the post-World Cup beast and he’s presently earning the big greens at Etihad Stadium.

Finally, it’s refreshing to know that the Gunners are returning back to London unscathed and they’ll be ready to rediscover their form with a victory against Sunderland.

I forgot to add the world’s best striker’s name to the list. His goal against Portugal sent Morten Olson’s men to the Group Stages of the Euros while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal are going to the play-offs but they could qualify from the Best Placed runners up category.

Ronaldo’s free kick was a thing of beauty but Ricardo Quaresma needs to be flogged though.

We know that he’s the king of the outside of the boot technique but I’m sure that God knew what he was doing when he gave us TWO FEET.


Arsenal’s international ambassadors and a sad day for Nigeria

Super Chickens

The Super Chickens of Nigeria were under the watchful eyes of 140,000,000 patriots with the uphill task of getting a victory that was going to be more than enough to seal qualification to the 2012 African Cup of Nations. Supporting the Nigerian national team is a lot different from Arsenal or any other football club.

Arsenal has lost four games in seven but the world as I know it hasn’t ended; Nigeria drew with Guinea this afternoon and I would probably had shot myself in the foot if I wielded a gun.

Down the years, I’ve seen my fair share of disappointments from my country. The team’s second round decimation in the hands of Denmark in the 1998 World Cup, the horrible performance coupled with the messed up jersey in the 2002 World Cup, failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and another disappointing campaign in the World Cup in South Africa last summer.

All we had to do was to score a bloody goal and keep another bloody clean sheet but we are going to gear ourselves for another tournament without the Super Chickens. What hurts the most is that African juggernauts like Egypt and Cameroun are going to miss out.

At least, we won’t get a bronze medal this time :d

Moving over to involving Arsenal, 16 Gunners were called up to represent their nations and it’s good to know that no bones were broken too.

Aaron Ramsey scored from the spot when Wales beat Switzerland with a two-goal margin. Bale the Chimp also got on the score sheet. Ramsey will lead his dragons to Sofia to play those Balkans that have surnames that end up with –ov.

Park Chu-Young got a chance to play some football again and he took out his frustrations with a brace against Poland in a match were Lukasz Fabianski was the custodian between the sticks for next summer’s European Championships co-hosts. I hope he gets some action for Arsene Wenger’s side soon enough because he’ll probably be eager to get a piece of the action for his new side.

Let’s not forget that he has to serve his nation in the Army in 2013.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was in scintillating form by scoring a brilliant hattrick for England’s Under-21s against Iceland’s Under-21s. His final goal was the icing of the cake as he rounded three players before firing past the goalkeeper at his near post. The Chambered Ox is one player that will be an ace in the deck for Arsene Wenger this season.

Theo Walcott gave a sweet assist for Ashley Young in England’s shock 2-2 draw with hard-fighting Montenegro. However, the game was marred by a red card for England’s star player Wayne Rooney when he lashed out on a Montenegrin player. Kieran Gibbs spent the game on the dugout.

Arsenal’s talisman played for 90 minutes when Holland defeated Moldova with a solitary goal. That victory was Holland’s ninth in the nine games they’ve played so far. Only Spain and Germany have matched that 100% record. Van Persie will be in action again when Holland play Sweden on Tuesday.

Laurent Koscielny spent 90 minutes on the bench when France thrashed Albania with three unreplied goals. In my Football Manager 2011, Koscielny has notched up over 70 caps for…………Poland. He still has a choice to play for Poland though because he’s still uncapped and he has Polish origins too.

Johan Djourou didn’t play when Switzerland lost to Gary Speed’s Wales. His defensive teammate, Per Mertesacker was involved in Germany’s 3-1 win over Turkey. Thomas Mueller scored a lovely placed effort but Mario Gomez’ stunner was a thing of beauty.

Andrey Arshavin led his Russian side to a slender 1-0 win over Slovakia but qualification isn’t certain yet for the Russian because they need a win against Andorra to book a place in Poland and Ukraine. Arshavin missed out on the World Cup and I’m pretty sure that he’ll want to shine on the world stage again.

Tomas Rosicky led his Czech side in the 2-0 loss to world champions Spain. Rosicky gave his all for his team but the technical play of Spain was too much for the Czechs. Football superpowers like Holland, Germany and Portugal bowed to Spain in the World Cup so the Czechs were going to be no different.

Alex Song played for Cameroun when they beat DR Congo but it’s too little too late for the Indomitable Lions because they are not going to play a part in the African Cup of Nations in January.

Gervinho, Marouane Chamakh and Yossi Benayoun are yet to play though.

The final phase of qualification takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wojciech Szczesny didn’t play for Poland yesterday but he has told the media Vultures that he can’t wait for the Euros and the praise he got from Oliver Ganges Kahn has been a motivation.

I’m sure that he wasn’t talking about that hot Kelly Rowland video.


Ramsey seeks fresh Arsenal challenge and Arteta to be simply known as “Arteta”

Every club football fan has waved sayonara to the international break because club football is just around the corner.

From an Arsenal perspective, Robin van Persie and Park Chu-Young added four more goals to their country’s accounts, Aaron Ramsey, Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky had the honor of leading their nations into action, Gervinho showed why he’ll be an integral part of Arsenal’s football with his stellar performance against Rwanda and Wojciech Szczesny made a save that earned plaudits from the great Oliver Ganges Kahn.

With the 8-2 mauling at Old Trafford a dead and gone affair that will still remain in the hearts of gooners worldwide, the fans will be expecting atonement when Arsenal hosts Swansea.

Ramsey has told the media Vultures that he wants a fresh start and Arsenal wants to set things right on Saturday:

“We want to put things right after our last result. Hopefully we put in a really good performance and get back to winning ways.

“We have had a good think about things and it will be a fresh start now. We have brought in some quality players, Arteta and Benayoun are two creative midfielders who are really comfortable on the ball and they will be great additions to the squad.

“I saw last season, when I played against Swansea for Cardiff, that they are a good footballing team and like to pass the ball. It will be a good footballing game but hopefully we come out on top and get all three points.

Arsenal’s Premier League form has been very dismal starting from the 2-1 loss to Birmingham in February and a win against Swansea will go a long way in winning the fans back and restoring confidence to the squad.

Mikel Arteta is a player that could be in line to make his Arsenal debut next tomorrow but he arrives in Arsenal as the mindset that he’s Fabregas’ ideal replacement.

Arteta has told everybody to stop comparing him with Fabregas:

“Fabregas and Nasri were two top players for the club, they did really, really well in the last few years and now we have some new players coming in to try and make the same impact. I am sure we will.

“I don’t want the fans to be expecting the same as them because every player is different.”

“We need some time to adapt as well, but I am sure that we will give everything we can to make this team better.”

Arteta brings his good passing range, creativity, amazing technique, close control, good set pieces and influence to Arsenal. These are attributes that were synonymous with Fabregas when he was in Arsenal.

Arteta has also told the media Vultures that Arsenal can win the title. He was faced with an interview and he did well to share his views over several issues at the club.

When he was asked if he has seen his new teammates:

“A few of them. Most of them are on international duty at the moment but I have trained with some of the younger lads and all of the staff apart from the manager who is away. It has been very positive.

On knowing any Arsenal player on a personal level:

“No. I knew Cesc a little bit because he is Spanish and Manuel Almunia just to say hello to when we play against each other, but not much.”

On training:

“It was good. I only trained on Monday, but you can see that the ball is involved in every exercise, there is good tempo in training and I think it is good, very good.”

On the different footballing culture from Everton:

“At Everton I think we used to run a little bit more than what we do here, without the ball. But it has only been a day so it is hard to say. In the next few months I will be more suited to answer that question.”

On what he’ll bring to Arsenal:

“I hope to bring creativity, 100 per cent commitment, work and help the team to do better.”

On the views that he’s touted as a replacement for Fabregas or Nasri:

“No, I don’t want to use the word replacement. They were two top players for the Club, they did really, really well in the last few years and now we have some new players coming in to try and make the same impact. I am sure we will. I don’t want the fans to be expecting the same as them because every player is different. We need some time to adapt as well, but I am sure that we will give everything we can to make this team better.”

On his strongest playing position:

“The manager asked me to play in every position [at Everton] and the good thing is to get different things from every position. I played a lot on the left, I played a lot in attacking midfield and I played in front of the back four as well. It depends what the manager wants here from me – I have not had a chance to speak to him about that yet.”

On how he can help the younger players:

“It is too early to say but I know what type of character I am and what I like done. Hopefully there are things which we can make sure we improve. I can advise and hopefully that is going to help them.”

On his take on Arsenal’s Premier League campaign so far:

“Well it is not the best of starts obviously. Looking at the other teams, at Manchester United and City, both have nine points already but it is early stages. The season is very long with the Premier League, Carling Cup, Champions League and FA Cup. There is still a lot of work to do, but we want to start winning on Saturday and get that right. From then hopefully everything is going to be more positive.”

On his belief on Arsenal title challenge:

“This club has to be there with them fighting until the very end, that is for sure. Nobody can be happy saying they are too good or have spent more money. We can fight, and I do not think that is the right mentality. We have unbelievable talent here and if we can use it the right way I am sure we can fight with them.”

On how he feels about his potential debut:

“I am really excited. It has been a bit strange having been at the same club for six or seven years, and it is a big change. Even when you just put a different kit on. But I am so excited, I hope I can do my job well and if I have the chance to play, I will give everything.”

Fabregas gave 110% in almost every game he played so the gooners will be hoping that Arteta will be an essential piece of Arsenal’s jigsaw puzzle.

In other Arsenal related news, Per Mertesacker has told the media Vultures that nervous but excited:

“It is like before the first day at school. I have a new challenge in a new country, a new style of play and a new language and I am ready for it.”

“It is exciting. It is a new phase in my life and I am really looking forward to it, but I also feel nervous.”

With the Verm out of action for a month, Mertesacker will have to blend with Koscielny because he’ll definitely ahead of Djourou.

To round it all up, Arsenal is linked to Barcelona’s Little Messi called Gerard Deulofeu and Walcott will be fit enough to play Swansea

That’s a wrap for today.


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