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Thoughts on Martinez Leaving and His Viking Replacement?

Emi Martinez reaches summit of emotional Arsenal journey to FA Cup glory -

Emi, thanks for the memories

If I had a heart, I could love you

If I had a voice, I would sing 

After the night when I wake up

I’ll see what tomorrow brings

Word on the street is that with Emiliano Martinez set to leave Arsenal to Aston Villa imminently (more on this anon), the Gunners are looking to replace him with a Viking goalie, Ragnar Lothbrok, I mean, Alex Runarsson. I’m pretty sure there’s a link between Runar Alex Runarsson and Ragnar Lothbrok – they are both Vikings! Runarsson will stand behind the sticks at the Emirates, facing a direct free kick from the opposition, instructing his defenders to mount a shield wall to block the Saxon attackers from Wessex and Northumbria. Now, I’m reaching.

In reality, I know nothing about our potential Viking goalie, so I did what was expected of any blogger – research. Starting his career in his native Iceland with KR Reykjavik, Runarsson made a name for himself when he moved to neighboring Denmark to sign for FC Nordsjaelland. It was in the Danish outfit that he was in the spotlight, winning the Player of the Season award in the 2017/18 campaign. Interestingly, he was under the tutelage of Inaki Cana Pavon, a current goalkeeping coach at Arsenal, so I am positive that the prospect of them walking together again at the Emirates would be exciting for both player and coach.

As expected, he was found by some scouts in France for his goalkeeping heroics in Lord Bendtnerland, and got poached by Dijon FCO two seasons ago. According to WhoScored, he notched up 25 appearances in his first season at the second division French outfit but his game time reduced considerably last season following the acquisition of Alfred Gomis from SPAL, with the Iceland goalie featuring mainly in cup competitions. He was part of the Icelandic setup that travelled to Russia for the FIFA 2018 World Cup but he didn’t feature in any game at the mundial. 

Signing Runarsson from Dijon would clearly serve as a cheaper alternative to allow the funds generated from the sale of Martinez and potential sale of Lucas Torreira who seems to be paraded around Italy – first Fiorentina, now Torino! Who knows, he may end up joining Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Roma. We will certainly get a glimpse of Runarsson in the Europa League and cup competitions, while our undisputed No. 1, Bernd Leno, will continue to strut his stuff in the Premier League.

Which brings me to the man of the hour – Emiliano Martinez. Since joining the club as far back as 2010, Martinez has always been on the fringes at the club and was sent on loan to six different clubs to earn some playing time. His appearances at Arsenal were few and far between but one can’t forget that crazy 7-5 League Cup fixture against Reading in 2013. But after so many years waiting for his chance, he got his breakthrough last season following the unfortunate injury Leno suffered against Brighton. In those fixtures he featured, Martinez was a class act and there was a dilemma for the club about who would to be the No. 1 goalie for the new campaign. 

Leno returned to full fitness in the summer and Martinez still got the shot at the Community Shield win against Liverpool. However, the gaffer has favored the German shot stopper ahead of Martinez so it makes some sense for the player to want a move away from the club and with Aston Villa offering as much as 20 million quid, it’s a win-win for everyone – Arsenal get some cool cash that can be invested elsewhere while Martinez moves to a club where he would be the No. 1 till Tom Heaton returns from his long term injury at least. 

Martinez would be missed as he was clearly a dependable back up goalie, but I guess it’s up to the newbie Viking goalie to show what he’s made of when the opportunities present themselves, that’s if Arsenal is really going for him.

I’m off to binge on some Vikings on Netflix.


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Thoughts on Arsenal’s Potential Departures to Italy


Lucas Torreira attempting to pick up Sokratis is exactly the level of  ambition I aspire for in 2020. : Gunners

Football, first and foremost, is a business with dealings in the transfer window playing a major role in the club’s finances. Arsenal is no different as the club swiftly swooped for Chelsea’s experienced maverick, Willian, on a free transfer before signing the highly-coveted center back, Gabriel Magalhaes, and securing a successive loan spell for midfield maestro, Dani Ceballos. 

There are some departures that have been expected with the Italian Serie A being the expected destination.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

With some additions, it only makes sense to expect some departures and the goodbye wagon started rolling with the club confirming the departure of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to AS Roma by mutual consent.

The decision to swap the Armenian attacking midfielder with Alexis Sanchez remains one of the most puzzling deals in football history, bearing in mind that Arsenal rejected a lucrative offer from Manchester City to sign the Chilean forward. Mkhitaryan joined the squad with a fat pay check and was quite inconsistent and underwhelming for a player of his calibre.

Things went sour and he joined AS Roma on loan where he managed to pick up some decent form to the point they offered Arsenal 10 million euros for his services and the Gunners rejected that as well – only to allow him leave for free a few months later. Good business indeed. The only positive I can think of from Mkhitaryan leaving, besides watching him of course, is the wages that have been freed up, which will be offered to those more deserving, like a certain Gabonese talismanic forward.

Lucas Torreira

Switching from permanent to potential departures, it seems like our love affair with the diminutive Uruguayan defensive midfielder, Lucas Torreira, is coming to an end. He came to the club and offered us something we had missed for a while – that dogged, swashbuckling, hard tackling, combative style we craved and we certainly loved it, as he missed only four Premier League games from 38 in his debut season.

His second season with us didn’t have the same zest as expected and he even lost his place in the team to a younger Matteo Guendouzi under Unai Emery and Dani Ceballos under Mikel Arteta. This led to him voicing his thoughts about not playing regularly and giving green lights to his potential suitors about his availability. It is believed that Italian Serie A outfit, Fiorentina, have declared their interest in signing Torreira in some sort of loan with mandatory option of buying kind of deal.

I am certain that Torreira will not pass on an opportunity to return to the country he started his football career, having played with Pescara and Sampdoria before joining Arsenal in 2018. In as much as I would love Torreira to stay, I understand his sentiments if he wants to leave for regular playing time, especially with the fact that he featured sparingly went football returned in June 2020. 

Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Finally, we visit the situation of Sokratis Papastathopoulos who has clearly fallen out of favor with the manager. Despite the fact that Calum Chambers has been injured for a lengthy period and there were fitness concerns with Rob Holding, Arteta still preferred to feature full backs like Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac as center back options with Sokratis watching from the bench.

The fact that he has also entered the final months of his contract with no hopes of renewing makes him a prime target to be axed this summer and his wishes might come through with Napoli declaring their interest in acquiring his services.

With their key asset in midfield, Allan, already departing to Everton and star defender, Kalilou Koulibaly, a long-term target for Manchester City, Napoli will want to bolster their defensive options and I am elated with the fact that the potential exists for Sokratis to be sold to them, even though it will certainly be for cheaps.


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What Willian Brings to Arsenal Football Club

Report: Arsenal offer Willian three-year deal to sign on free transfer

This morning, Arsenal announced the signing of former Chelsea attacker, Willian Borges da Silva, on the three-year deal for free of course. I shared my thoughts about Willian in a previous post but I will like to focus on the attributes the Brazilian sensation brings to Arsenal football club. 

Little or No Adaptation Period

Those that saw the exploits of Nicolas Pepe last season can attest to the fact that adaptation is critical for any footballer joining a new club, as challenges such as learning the language, adapting to change in tactical management among others take center stage. Arsenal will face no such issues with with Willian as he spent seven years in London with the Gunners rivals, Chelsea, excelling admirably in the West London outfit. This means that Arsenal fans can expect Willian to hit the ground running from the get-go with the new campaign resuming in just 28 days.

Well Publicized Versatility

Every football manager hopes to have a player or two that can feature in several positions to allow him make tactical changes before and during matches. Arsenal is in luck as Willian is such a player that is adept in the left and right wings as well as the attacking central midfield position. The player himself declared that he is available to compete in any position with the sole aim of helping the team excel,

“I come to help in every position. I can play on the right, I can play in the middle, I can play on the left side as well. So I want to help – in any position where they put me to play, I will try to do my best.”

Excellent Injury Record

In a career that spanned for 14 years, Willian has made 618 appearances and scored 103 goals. In his seven years at Chelsea, the lowest amount of appearances Willian made was 41, and he made 34 league appearances in that campaign. If you check his injury history at transfermarkt, you will see that Willian was injured just three times in his entire career, so Arsenal will be assured that they have a player that will feature consistently for them in the coming seasons.

Dead Ball Specialist

Every team needs that player with a proven track record of set piece taking as it offers another perspective in a teams quest for goals. Last season, Arsenal scored a handful of free kicks with the most notable being Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal against Aston Villa and Pepe’s double salvo against Victoria Guimaraes. However, Willian is a seasoned dead ball professional and will certainly earn the trust of his teammates to take a dead ball when the chance arrives in a favorable position. He’s also adept in taking corner kicks and swinging in dead balls from deep lying positions which will be an important asset for Arsenal in the forthcoming season.

Trophy Winning Experience

Willian enjoyed a distinguished football career winning six league titles (four at Shakhtar Donetsk and two at Chelsea), seven domestic cups (five in Ukraine and two in England) as well as two Europa League titles with Shakhtar and Chelsea. On the international scene, has won the 2007 Youth Championships with Brazil U-20s and the 2019 Copa America, so its fair to say that he has won his fair share of trophies. This will help with his mentality, and he has stated his intentions to carry it into this stint with Arsenal.

Much Needed Creativity

Whether he is cutting in from the flanks or making his short bursts past his opponents, Arsenal can count on Willian to provide that much needed creativity lacking in the side in recent campaigns. Mesut Ozil is the player tasked with that responsibility but he has not been featuring on the side. Sky Sports did an analysis on Willian’s creative numbers last season and it was very impressive to say the least. He created 76 chances, completed 51 crosses, notched up seven assists and scored nine goals. The likes of Aubameyang, Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette will lick their lips at the prospect of working with such a creative player in the club’s ranks. 

Attacking Output

Willian’s entire career has seen him score 103 goals in 618 games. 63 of those goals appeared in Chelsea colors from 339 appearances. In his last five seasons with Chelsea, Willian scored 11, 8, 13, 12 and 11 goals respectively in all competitions, which are very decent numbers from an attacking midfielder. Arsenal will be expecting the same from him and we expect him to deliver.


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