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Thoughts on the Potential Dortmund Reunion at the Emirates

Image result for aubameyang mkhitaryan

So have you heard about the intricacies involving the mega deal taking Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United?

  • £117m in wages to the Chilean forward
  • £35m would be given to Arsenal
  • £10m would be splashed out to his agent
  • £20m signing on fee for the chap

The best part of this deal is that we would also be getting an Armenian midfield maestro wrapped and stuffed in a shiny box. This chap was in prolific form in his final season at the Bundesliga, scoring 25 goals and providing 26 assists for his teammates. We were linked with the lad that had a year left on his deal but Manchester United, being the bullies they are, shoved us away and got him, only to throw his career down the drain. For some reason, he struggled to make an impact there and was ostracized by Jose Mourinho.

He had a resurgence at the start of the new campaign, scoring a couple of goals in preseason, and that prompted me to select him in my Fantasy team at the start of the 2017/18 season. Five assists in his first four games got everyone buzzing then Man Utd lost Paul Pogba to injury and it seemed to affect him or something because nothing just worked for him. His manager didn’t help his cause either and continued to freeze him out of the first team.

Without Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, Arsenal has looked bang average with Danny Welbeck and the out-of-sorts Alex Iwobi making fools of themselves behind an Alexandre Lacazette that had no service to the extent he decided to drop deep to get a glimpse of the ball. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a very creative midfielder and I’d prefer to have him on our ranks and playing attacking midfielder rather than the aforementioned duo of Iwelbeck. 

I’m hearing that the club is having issues with wages for Mkhitaryan and I’m just here being hopeful that we would seal the deal. Alexis has wanted out since the summer and his play this season has clearly showed that his heart was no longer at the Emirates. Unlike the Robin van Persie move that kinda hurt a lot when it happened, I’m not even batting an eyelid on Alexis moving to that lot. The sooner this swap happens, the better for everyone involved. Mkhitaryan will get a new lease of life and the freedom he requires to do his thing like them Dortmund and Shakhtar days I hope, while we will no longer remove the hair from our heads for another time Alexis gets dispossessed.

Elsewhere, things are quite intense at Borussia with their star striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, submitting a transfer request to leave the club. Arsenal is believed to be interested in the lad and the papers also say we have agreed personal terms with the Gabonese international. Since his move from St. Etienne to Borussia Dortmund in 2013, PEA’s rise in the team has been meteoric. Shunted out to the right wing to accommodate Robert Lewandowski allowed the lad to hone his attacking skills but when Lewa moved to Bayern, the center forward role was Auba’s for keeps and he made it his in grand style.

He has smashed 16, 25, 39 and 40 goals in his first four seasons with the club and he picked up where he left off, scoring 21 goals in 23 games for Dortmund this season. Arsenal has lacked goals in recent weeks, and bringing in a forward as lightning quick as Aubameyang will be an awesome move for the club.

Aubameyang also forged an extremely good understanding with Mkhitaryan in his Dortmund days and having that reunion at the Emirates is a sign of good things to come. I can wait for both lads to put pen to paper as we aim to salvage what’s left of the season. Qualification for the top four is a long shot at the moment with other teams in good form but we can challenge for the Carabao Cup and the Europa League, two trophies Arsene Wenger has never won with the club.


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Coquelin to Join Valencia and the Gunners Step Up Chase for Jonny Evans

Image result for sanchez coquelin

For a moment, I forgot that we were in the winter transfer window.

You know, when your team is playing so badly in games and struggling like we are, you can only shift your focus to the next available game with the hope for a much improved performance from the previous show. Arsenal’s cause isn’t helped with the fact that we go to Stamford Bridge next, a ground where we haven’t had much joy in recent seasons. We did earn a creditable draw and might have even had all three points if Alexandre Lacazette remember where the goal actually was Aaron Ramsey’s shot clipped the post and fell kindly to him. More on the Chelsea game tomorrow.

My focus for today would be on Francis Coquelin, a player that signed a long term deal with us but lost his place in the term due to Granit Xhaka’s emergence in the squad. I can still remember his breakthrough performances on his return from his loan spell at Charlton. This swashbuckling tackling and passionate style of play endeared him to the hearts of the fans but deep down we saw him as a stop gap option in defensive midfield, rather than a long term plan. The club thought otherwise, or so we thought, when they offered him a new deal last season, alongisde Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud.

This season, the Coq has found games hard to come by, as he had to stick to substitute appearances in the Premier League with the only start coming at the Etihad where he played in central defense. However, he featured consistently in the Carabao Cup and Europa League. I expected him in midfield on Sunday against Nottingham Forest and I certainly raised an eyebrow when he wasn’t on the bench as well but with the Mirror reporting that Valencia Mestalla has made a 12m bid for him, it made some form of sense. However, I remain a bit confused – if Coquelin wasn’t part of Wenger’s plans, why did he offer him a long term deal? For a player that has such a new contract, isn’t 12m too small? Well, he was one of the guys considered as deadwood but will his departure give the manager the opportunity to properly invest in central midfield? Aaron Ramsey is a regular name on the first team sheet but his fitness remains a problem as he’s currently nursing a hamstring injury. Xhaka looks out of sorts and can do with a breather. Mo Elneny is such an average footballer and can offer us nothing beyond moving his dreads from side to side. Or does the manager have plans to play Ainsley Maitland-Niles in his natural position, allowing Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal to do their jobs?

Either ways, it seems like its the end of the road for Coquelin. 10 seasons, 159 games and three trophies with the Gunners, he served to the best of his abilities and never grumbled over lack of consistent playtime. Just like Kieran Gibbs, he needs a new challenge and La Liga would be an interesting proposition for the French midfielder.

On the other end of the pendulum, the Sun has reported that Arsenal have stepped up their chase for West Brom’s Jonny Evans and are also planning to use Matt Debuchy as makeweight to seal the deal. It’s also believed that Manchester City are interested in the Northern Irish defender as a replacement for the ever-injured Vincent Kompany. I know the Gunners recently bought Kostantinos Mavropanos but that’s a lad for the future. The current state of the Gunners defense is in shambles, and the performance against Nottingham Forest proved how bad things have become at the club. Per Mertesacker is past his prime and is probably day dreaming of his academy job at the end of the season, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal are in their 30s and are struggling with injuries, Calum Chambers and Rob Holding are still very raw, leaving us with just Shkodran Mustafi as the reliable defender.

Adding a player like Evans wouldn’t be a bad option – he’s 30, very experienced in the Premier League, has won major trophies with Manchester United and can stake a claim for a place in the side, and of course provide some much needed depth as our players tend to drop like flies every season.

More on these players in the coming days.


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Arsenal Looking to the Future with Konstantinos Mavropanos

When I think about Greek football, the first thing that comes thing that comes to my mind is the triumphant Greek campaign in Euro 2004. It all started when an Angelos Basinas penalty was enough to earn a shock win over the hosts, Portugal, in the opening fixture but it was followed by a draw with Spain and a narrow loss to Russia which was still enough to send the Greeks to the knockout round where the real business begins.

People started taking them a bit more seriously when Angelos Charisteas scored the only goal that knocked the defending champions, France, out of the tournament. Traianos Dellas scored the only goal against the Czech Republic in the semis, while Charisteas made history with the goal that defeated Portugal in the finals and won the tournament for the Greeks. Otto Renhagel became a legend in the nation and Greeks were the sweethearts of the football world.

Following their success in Euro 2004, as well as a 14th place position in the FIFA World Rankings, many neutrals were shocked as Greece failed to make it to make it to the 2006 FIFA World Cup. However, they came into Euro 2008 as the defending champions with some expectations from their fans and the world at large but they failed woefully as they crashed out of the tournament in the group stages, losing all three games. Their 2010 World Cup campaign also ended in heartache, failing to qualify from a group that had Argentina, South Korea and my Nigeria. They did muster a win against Nigeria though. Thanks a lot, Sani Kaita.  The Greeks did better in Euro 2012, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to Germany. In more recent times, Greek football has been on the decline, and their playoff loss to Croatia ended their hopes of featuring in the great spectacle at Russia.

Enough about Greek football already, it’s time to focus on our new signing, Mavropanos. It was confirmed on the official site that Mavropanos has joined that Gunners from Greek SuperLeague outfit. PAS Giannina. I obviously don’t know much about the lad aside from the fact that he’s 20 years old and 6′ 4″. I also know that he wouldn’t be thrust into first team action, with a potential move to Werder Bremen in the works.

With Per Mertesacker leaving at the end of the season to resume his Academy Head role, Laurent Koscielny getting towards his twilight and struggling for form and fitness, Nacho Monreal’s fitness concerns and aging coming into play, it makes a lot of sense to recruit a towering defender with something to prove. Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers are certainly the defenders on the spotlight but I believe that Sven Mislintat has began his job in earnest, as the Gunners aim to revamp their scouting system.

I don’t really follow the Bundesliga regularly and I don’t expect Mavropanos to walk straight into the first team ahead of the likes of club captain, Nicklas Moisander and his center back partner, Milos Veljkovic in the Bremen starting XI but I’m pretty sure he would get some opportunities, especially with the team struggling in the German league this season.

I wish the lad the very best and hope to see him in coming seasons.


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