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Rating Arsenal’s Midfielders’ Performances in the 2014/15 Season

Today, Gooner Daily discusses about the performances of the players that make up Arsenal’s engine room.

Mikel Arteta (11 appearances, one goal, two yellow cards)

With Thomas Vermaelen departing to FC Barcelona, Arsene Wenger continued the succession by giving the captain’s arm band to Mikel Arteta. The new skipper featured in the FA Community Shield and lifted his first trophy. However, Arteta’s campaign was plagued by many injuries and with the emergence of Francis Coquelin, he wasn’t even eased into action when he regained full fitness. The fans would be hoping that he would contribute to the team’s cause next season.

Rating: 4/10

Jack Wishere (22 appearances, two goals, six yellow cards)

For the first time in ages, Wilshere enjoyed a good pre-season campaign and he featured regularly in Arsenal’s 4-1-4-1 tactical setup. His performance against Manchester City was up there with the very best but his season suffered an abrupt dent when he was on the end of a poorly-timed tackle from Manchester United’s Paddy McNair which ruled him out for a considerable chunk of the season.

Arsene Wenger did the right thing to re-introduce him slowly to the thick of things, and Wilshere crowned that with another ‘goal of the season’ when the Gunners played West Brom in the Premier League curtain closer.

Rating: 7/10

Mesut Ozil (23 appearances, five goals, two yellow cards)

Ozil was heavily involved in Germany’s World Cup triumph and was sent back to the rigors of the Premier League as the season progress. He struggled initially with adjusting to playing on the left wing and he put up some concerning performances but he opened his goalscoring account in the game against Aston Villa when he returned to his favored No. 10 role. In October, he suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for three months.

He returned a stronger player and added goals to his game with strikes against Brighton and Aston Villa. He opened the scoring in the North London derby and swung in a superb free kick in the thrashing of Liverpool. Ozil has become very integral to the team and he has made his influence known. We can only hope he continues with time.

Rating: 8/10

Aaron Ramsey (40 appearances, 10 goals, seven yellows, one red card)

Following his breakthrough performance last season that saw Ramsey scored 16 goals including the famous winner at Wembley, a lot was expected of the Welsh Jesus this season. He handled that responsibility well by scoring the match winner in the first game of the season but he struggled for fitness and form this season.

After going on a goal drought for three months, Ramsey scored a sumptuous volley in the 3-2 defeat against Stoke and followed it up with an unbelievable left-footed piledriver in the dead-rubber fixture against Galatasaray. Due to the fact that Ramsey is one hell of a complete player, Wenger deployed him on the right flank in a tactical switch that saw some players moved around but as the weeks went by, Ramdey’s influence dwindled on the right. When he returned to the middle, he was back to his best and the fans are hoping that he stays in the middle at Wembley.

Rating: 8/10

Santi Cazorla (52 appearances, eight goals, five yellow cards)

Cazorla was an ever-present player for Arsenal this season and his versatility ensured that he was used by the gaffer in several playing position on the pitch. He also developed a penchant for executing set piece with such ridiculous ease that it was a no brainer on who to select anytime the Gunners had a penalty. Cazorla also raked up his assists count this season, and he put up a lot of stand-out performances in the course of the season.

There has been a lot of speculation regarding a move away from the club but the midfielder is focused on excelling with the club. Good to see him put on the band in a couple of occasions as well.

Rating: 8/10

Mathieu Flamini (32 appearances, one goal, six yellow cards)

Flamini featured as a back up to Arteta and got a run-out when the captain was out injured. However, his performances this season have been fairly inconsistent, and the fans won’t be quick to forget how he lost the ball in the buildup to Tottenham’s goal. Whether it’s been a case of his aging legs or the player not just being good enough, Flamini hasn’t reached the heights he set in the yesterday tear with Arsenal.

It’s very certain that the club would not renew his deal when it expires next summer.

Rating: 3/10

Tomas Rosicky (23 appearances, three goals, two yellow cards)

It’s quite bizarre to know that Rosicky’s first Premier League game came as late as December in the win over QPR, and as you’d expect from the ageless Czech, he scored the match winner. While the games were kinda hard to come by in the league, Rosicky featured in the cup fixtures as he captained the side and got a goal in the 3-2 win over Brighton. His last goal of the campaign arrived in the narrow win over Everton and as expected, he has made a couple of substitute appearances and it’s good to know that he has chose to extend his contract with the squad.

Rating: 7/10

Francis Coquelin (29 appearances, no goal, seven yellow cards)

They say the best things in life are free.

Maybe they were talking about Coquelin. The French man has been the best thing that happened to Arsenal in the second half of the season. Enough said.

Rating: 10/10


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Celebrating the International Centurion, Tomas Rosicky

Tomas Rosicky has given nine years of his career to Arsenal, but to Czech Republic, he has given a lot more.

He first burst into the international scene as a 15-year-old in 1995 and he played through the youth teams before making his full debut for the national side as a 19-year-old against Ireland in February 2000. He was selected in the Czech team for Euro 2000 but the team was ousted from the group stages that featured Netherlands, France and Denmark. With Patrik Berger suspended, Rosicky played in the middle with Pavel Nedved as the Czech team lost to Holland and France but he was benched in the final game against Denmark.

Qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup went well for the Czech Republic and Rosicky played his part with two goals in the campaign. Their reward for coming second was a playoff against Belgium but they lost to the two-legged tie to the Belgians. As expected, Rosicky and the Czech team qualified for Euro 2004 and he was heavily involved in their group stage adventure as they sealed nine points from a group that had Latvia, Holland and Germany. In the quarterfinals, the Czech eased past Denmark but they suffered heartbreak in the semis with an extra time loss to eventual winners, Greece.

In was in the 2006 World Cup that the Czech maestro announced himself with this magnificent strike for his nation against the United States

He scored again with another strike against U.S.A but it was a disastrous campaign for the Czech as they lost their remaining games to Ghana and Italy. That’s when Rosicky’s adventure with Arsenal began and it has been a worthwhile journey ever since.

Following the retirement of Pavel Nedved in August 2006, the captain’s armband was handed to Rosicky. In the buildup to Euro 2008, Rosicky was involved in some controversy when he and some of his Czech teammates, Martin Jiranek, Tomas Ujfalusi, Jan Polak and Marek Cech, managed to get some prostitutes into their hotel by telling team officials that the girls were ‘autograph hunters’. They also claimed they had been celebrating Ujfalusi’s birthday. This earned the players a fine of £25,000.

Rosicky’s hamstring injury cost him his place in the Czech squad for Euro 2008. Without Rosicky to help the team, the Czechs began the campaign well with a victory over Switzerland but subsequent losses to Portugal and Turkey ended their tournament with more disappointment. Rosicky’s last international tournament with the Czech team was Euro 2012, where he led them to victories against Greece and Poland in the group stages before their quarterfinal loss to Portugal.

Yesterday, Czech Republic hosted Latvia and the game ended in a 1-1 draw but there was a personal milestone in the game for the Czech captain, as he notched up his 100th cap for his nation, which is a remarkable feat. The record amount of international games for any player is currently held by Egypt’s Achmed Hassan, that amassed 184 games for Egypt between 1996 and 2012 playing in eight African Cup of Nations and winning four.

Rosicky is one player I admire and I know a day would come when his aging legs won’t allow him to keep playing for the Gunners, but I hope that day doesn’t come anytime soon. He’s an awesome technician on the ball and like fine wine, he gets better with age. That hamstring injury robbed him off his best years for the club as he was part of that quartet of awesome in Arsenal’s midfield that almost won the Premier League in the 2007/08 season. Emmanuel Adebayor might get the plaudits for scoring the goals but Aliaksandr Hleb, Mathieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas and Rosicky.

This season has featured 22 times with three goals to his name. Many Arsenal fans will be proud of his achievements for the club, especially his contributions in the second half of the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons.

Here’s to Tomas Rosicky, the newest international centurion.

Here are his top strikes for the Czech Republic, for your viewing pleasure.


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What Can Podolski and Rosicky Do to Get Games?

With no club football coming anytime soon, it’s always good to stay and take stock of how things have panned out thus far this season. By this time last season, the Gunners were riding high with Premier League aspirations and it seemed as if they were actually cut out for it. As we all know, their league campaign crumbled as the months went by and it was good seeing the Gunners win the FA Cup. Arsenal’s run to the FA Cup final in Wembley was quite memorable and many players contributed in one way or another.

For a ‘fringe’ player like Lukas Podolski, his brace against Coventry served as his only goals in the competition but he went on to score eight league goals and one in the Champions League to take his tally for the campaign to 11. Tomas Rosicky on the other hand, had a handful of matches and his moment of glory in the competition when he ran the length of the pitch before chipping the ball over Hugo Lloris. He also scored a screamer against the same opposition in the league as well as that Norwich-esque finish against Sunderland.

This season, the games have been hard to come by for Podolski and Rosicky. The ageless Czech has played just 22 minutes of Premier League football this season and he has had just 31 Champions League minutes. The only time he played a full game was in the Capital One defeat to Southampton where he conceded the penalty that brought the opposition into the game.

The Czech maestro is quite perplexed about his current predicament,

“I understand that I am 34-years-old and that it probably plays a role whether I like it or not. That’s without doubt. However, I’m not in physical decline. When I played for the national team against Holland I ran 12km and according to the tests at Arsenal I’m in the top five (players) in terms of speed. 

“We are on good terms, so I do not really know what it is. It is purely a coach’s decision. It’s not my decline. My health is fine too. Of course I want to play, but there’s not much I can do about it.” 

Maybe all good things come to an end, but I wouldn’t want to see Rosicky’s career end this way with the Gunners. In the tail end of the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons, Rosicky served as the renaissance man and he helped the team to Champions League berths with his brilliant play. But with the quality of players at Arsenal’s disposal, the chances of the Czech star featuring are few and far between. His versatility ensures that he can be deployed in any of the advanced midfield positions but as it stands, Wenger is sticking to the current lot at the moment. Alexis is currently playing as a No. 10 and he has excelled admirably there. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been a major bright spark this season and the Gunners boss may not want to stifle his progress, especially with Theo Walcott on his way to full fitness. Some say that Santi Cazorla is meant to be axed from the squad but his creativity has been a highlight this season.

As for Podolski, he has struggled when he featured in the center forward position and is more or less limited to the left wing. His goal to game ratio is exemplary but many Arsenal fans can attest to the fact that Podolski gets anonymous in many games. However, Wenger’s decision to play Yaya Sanogo, a player that had never scored for the club, ahead of the German when the Gunners needed a goal, was quite puzzling. The German has confessed that he’s not happy with his situation and he’d seek talks with his manager over his future.

I still believe that Podolski and Rosicky will get their chances in the foreseeable future, but one wonders if they’d be patient enough.


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