5 Own Goals in 5 minutes

Sanchez stole 3 points from the Stadium of Light just like he has borne the gunners on his tireless wings flying over poor performances and giving the fans a silver lining to the stormy clouds of a below par team.

With no League cup action for the gunners, Manchester City was a joy to watch as Alan Pardew’s Newcastle progressed to the quarter final at the Etihad. Balotelli finally got his Liverpool goal and Chelsea scrapped past Shrewsbury. Pelle continued his mad form for Southampton and Sanchez inevitably won the Arsenal player of the month with over 90% of the votes.

My major highlight for the midweek was from Indonesia:

Indonesian clubs PSS Sleman and PSIS Semarang are disqualified from the country’s first division play-offs for scoring five own goals.
Sleman win the game 3-2, but a committee decided both sides attempted to lose in order to avoid a semi-final match with Borneo FC, a club rumoured to be backed by a local mafia.
The game was scoreless until the 86th minute before Sleman score two own goals in quick succession, Semarang then score three own goals and lose the tie.

Wellington’s work permit, Nigeria’s footballing game of thrones, the Nigerian Premier league, the astroturf FIFA WWC in Canada summed up the midweek for me.

ICYMI: Nigeria won the 2014 AWC in Namibia as they defeated Cameroun 2-0. Desire Oparanozie emerged highest goal scorer with Azizat Oshoala the best player of the tournament.

As for Arsenal, it is time for Burnley. Will Walcott feature? Are we hoping on the razor on Sanchez’s teeth?

Enjoy

The Five: Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal

Two defensive error from Sunderland gifted Alexis Sanchez is first Arsenal brace to give Arsenal maximum points from the Stadium of Light. The Black Cats have been trounced mercilessly by Southampton a week ago but the demon that befell them seems to have acquired a large space in the heart of the defence.

Match Report – Arsenal.com. Wenger’s Comment. Player Rating – ESPNFC.com.

The Five:

1. Shining Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez have hugged the headlines for over two weeks now with his goals and assists saving Arsenal from either a defeat or as in Anderlecht a draw. The Former Barcelona man seems to be the only gunner that knows what it is to fight for a win or never give up. Sanchez was agile enough to grab the two goals thanks to errors from Sunderland’s duo of Wes Brown and Manonne, grabbing Arsenal’s 1500th Premier League goal.

Sanchez is up there above every other gunner this season despite being newly added to the team. He is becoming the new Ramsey popping up with important goals to give Arsenal a degree of smile in the face of endless war to avoid defeat or gain maximum points. Arsene Wenger will continue to hope that sanzhez continues to give him the get-out-jail card when he is the tight corner. Shine on Sanchez.

2. Two Sunderland Errors

Sanchez takes advantage and makes it 2-0 on Saturday against Sunderland, who were left teetering about the relegation zone

Wes Brown invoked another version of slipping John Terry as seeming back base was a superb assist for Arsenal’s danger man. Sanchez kept lurking like Oliver Twist and he got another plate of goodies after the spirits that be rooted Vito Mannone’s feet to the Sunderland turf. The former Arsenal goalie picked up the ball 8 good times against Southampton and may have vowed never to pick as much balls of his net again. Unfortunately, his late error sealed three points for Arsene Wenger and his Gunners. Without the errors, Arsenal seemed to have forgotten their scoring boots and have misplaced their breakdown-opposition text book. It was a bad day for Don Vito. I feel for him because he was at Arsenal.

3. Step up Ox, Where is Santi?

Who doesn’t love his direct play? Everyone does but in recent time the Ox has huffed and puffed to no avail. The Ox struggled to create chances against Sunderland. He did exhibit moments of trickery but all came to naught. Cazorla’s twinkling feets may have frozen despite having the luxury of starting most of the games with Ozil out. Cazorla was poor missing a couple of chances to have added to Sanchez’s 1st goal. The Spaniard had 4 shots on goal with just one on target. When Theo Walcott returns, how will the Ox and Cazorla play?

4. Another Poor Performance, Another Win.

The ultimate aim of a match is to win. In the last two games Arsenal has achieved that but have also made their fans sit on the edge of their seats, causing others to have heartaches or question their support for the Red Army from North London. The gunners have been poor to be fair. They were unable to break a Sunderland side that was dissolved by summer-sale Southampton. It has to classified as poor that we were unable to create much chances and the few that was created were misused. The gunners.

5. Confidence and Injuries

So two consecutive wins in two poor games may boost the morale in the team and spur them to another 3 points against Burnley and the visit from Anderlecht. While the confidence looks to be approaching a state where we can see it is visible, the gunners were hit with another injury with Gibbs sustaining a hips injury. Young Bellerin had to be brought in as a replacement thus moving Monreal to his original position.

Enjoy

Arsenal, Anderlecht, Nigeria and The Six Goal Emem

Since Arsenal scrapped a late point from Hull City last weekend I have been so engaged in satisfying the piper that pays my monetary tunes. With Anderlecht on my mind I got from Arsenal away cup jersey with the faith of grabbing maximum points from Belgium.

The Anderlecht Champions League away game was a poor but the gunners managed to get two late goals from Keiran Gibbs and the Hell-freezing-if-i-join-Spurs Podolski. Poor defending had caused the gunners to concede but will have the dexterity of Sanchez and the anointing of the gods of soccer to thank.

The Five:
1. Martinez will not trouble Szczesny. He may have done better for the goal. Ospina’s 3 months injury gives Szczesny full authority.
2. Metersacker needs to stand up. He has been poor and slow to react. Expected better for the goal.
3. Monreal is not a center back. Wenger take note.
4. Podolski needs just the sight of the post. No foreplay.
5. Poor performance, great result.

So the gunners return to England to face Sunderland recently whitewashed by Southampton. Will Arsenal get all 3 points. The morale is low in Ashburton Grove with injuries adding to the headache but Theo’s return and the UCL win would probably boost the mood.

Before Arsenal presented Wenger with the late birthday gift, the Falcons of Nigeria defeated South Africa to progress to the 2014 African Women final holding in Namibia. Nigeria will face Cameroun in the final and have already booked their place in the 2015 Worldcup.

In the Glo Nigerian Premier League, it was goals galore on matchday 35 with Emem Eduok creating a record of scoring all 6 goals as Dolphins FC defeated relegation bound Nembe City. Emem is now the highest goal scorer with 19 goals closely followed by Mfom Udoh of Enyimba FC with 18 goals. Who will get the prize.

With 3 games to go, the table is tight at the top with Kano Pillars, Warri Wolves, Enyimba and Dolphins chasing the trophy closely. Below are the results;
Abia Warriors 1-1 Heartland
Dolphins 6-0 Nembe City
Warri Wolves 7-1 Crown FC
Akwa United 1-0 Bayelsa United
FC Taraba 2-0 Lobi Stars
Rangers 1-0 Sharks
Sunshine Stars 2-0 Gombe United
Kano Pillars 2-1 Kaduna United
Enyimba 1-0 El-Kanemi Warriors

Well it is so much drama for a Nigerian gooner with Nigeria sliding down the FIFA rankings to 42nd and the drama in the NFF glass house. Who is rightful president? Court appeals left right and center.

In Arsenal, one man calls the shots and even the chairman of the club work with his plans and he has none, they have none. Hopefully, he gets his results right this weekend.

Enjoy.

The Five: Arsenal 2-2 Hull City

The FIFA international break came to a halt with European club football at the center of affairs. Bayern Munich ran roit over Werder Bremen while Real Madrid had no mercy for Levante and Southampton made mincemeat of Sunderland.

On the red half of North London, Hull came visiting and the memories of the 2014 FA cup came afresh but Bruce was having none of it. The Tigers came from behind and almost went home with a three points no thanks to Welbeck’s late strike. Sanchez had put the gunners ahead in the 13th minute before Diame pulled Hull back minutes later. Immediately after the break Hull went ahead with a header from Hernandez.

image

Match report. Wenger’s Comment.  Player Ratings.
1. One Point.
Half bread is better than none just as one point is better than none. Arsenal is becoming consistent in enjoying half-breads and one points. Relief was all over the Emirates and beyond because the gunners had come from behind and had managed to score in added time. Is 3 point an abomination to these present team? The gunners have only won 2 games from 8 in the league.

2. Play To The Whistle
Mathieu Flamini was guilty of losing the ball once again in his own half resulting to another goal. Albeit, it should have been a foul but the gunners failed to play to the whistle as the Tigers grabbed the equalizer. The gunners must realize that it is not over until the whistle is blown. You just don’t switch off infront of your goal. Flamini must step up his game and use his experience to work his way through.

3. Makeshift Defence
Injuries and suspension had a great chemical reaction and robbed Arsenal of a tested back 4. Wenger may have been the catalyst for that reaction but surely not the provider of the injuries nor suspension. Koscielny niggling injury made him unavailable and Chambers new yellow romance had him suspended, leaving us with slow Metersacker.
The back had youthful Bellerin and Gibbs with Monreal playing as a center back, one of Wenger’s preseason experiment. The experiment failed with Diame bulldozing his way to grab a goal. Will Hayden or Ajayi have partnered better?

4. Arsenal and statistics.
With over 65% ball possesion, Arsenal was expected to have made that count. It is becoming customary that the gunners bask in the aura of having all the possession of the milky way but can’t convert that to a goal. 25 shots with just 9 on goal calls for medical attention. 10 wasted corner kicks may suggest the gunners may have to overlook them since they have been as productive as Yaya Sanogo.  The gunners must realize that they are 11pts behind leaders Chelsea, and are behind City, United and Liverpool. The top4 chase is already on and the gunners have even started late. The only stats that matter is the goals scored.

5. Ramsey Returns, Wilshere Injures
It was positive to see Ramsey return from injure, although he added little or nothing to unlock the Tigers cage. The Welsh Jesus will definitely be in Belgium for the Champions League tie against Anderlecht. Wilshere was subbed off and adds a little worry to Wenger’s injury headache.
Injury is not an excuse says Monreal ahead of the UCL tie:

The Champions League is THE competition for club teams.
“Injuries are a handicap to us but if we do want to go through we are going to need everyone playing at the top of their game.
“We will not use injuries as an excuse. The squad is 24 or 25 players and the rest of the squad has to come in and maintain our level. We won’t use it as an excuse.
“I haven’t played much as a central defender, I’m naturally more of a left-back, but if the manager wants me to play there, I would do my best.
“Injuries affect all teams but we have had some bad luck. Many of our important players are out and that obviously has an impact.

It was warming to see Campbell too and the gunners will hope to see Theo in a few days time.

It is sad that we are still in preseason mode but the Anderlecht game should be more than a mourinho-like shove but an encounter that will spring us to this season. Enough of mediocrity.

Enjoy.

The October International Break Five: Euro Shocks, Serbia Game, AFCON 2015, Keshi Sack and Arsenal

This October segment of the FIFA international break seems longer than others. It seems like ages since Arsenal wore their red and white. But the break had a lot of talking points that may linger for months. I have my five to share.

1. Euro Shockers.

My joy knew no bound seeing Slovakia grab their first win over Spain. The former world champions are yet to get over their dismal showing in Brazil some years ago. The tiki-taka generation may be undergoing a phase but players with oldies like Casillas refusing to leave the pitch for the younger generation.

I was also delighted with Berti Vogts and his Icelandic gang as they grab maximum 6 points from 2 games winning Turkey away and Netherlands on the ice. The Eskimos had Turkey for dinner before denying Robben and his Dutch lords the luxury of skating on their ice.

Germany rounded up my Euro shocker with a 2-0 defeat to Poland, thanks to Arsenal’s Szczesny. The German machine thought they had grabbed 3 points in Ireland but were denied by a late late goal. It is early days but being 6 points away from the leaders in your group doesn’t look good for Holland. I was not interested in other Euro qualifiers but it was good news seeing the Arsenal players featuring for their teams viz England, Czech, Poland etc. I had an eye for Lord Bendtner too.

2. The Serbia-Albania Fracas

I may have gotten an F in history but UEFA should have known better in avoiding this kind of high volatility game. Serbia and Albania have been at political loggerhead for quite a while with a lot of bad blood. In as much football is aimed at being non-political, care must be taken to manage a given situation like that of the Serbs and Albanians. UEFA made sure Spain and Gilbratar were not in the same group, so was for Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia and Georgia

The violence broke out after a drone, dangling a map of Albania enlarged to include areas of neighbouring Kosovo and Serbia, circled over the field towards the end of the first half, sparking the scenes which led to the match being called off.

The drone hovered mockingly over the pitch for a few beats, before descending. Serbia’s Stefan Mitrovic grabbed the flag, prompting a brief melee. Albanian forward Bekim Balaj emerged with it and was carrying it off the pitch when he was met by someone — probably a fan, pictures are inconclusive — who struck him with a plastic chair. This set off a brawl on the pitch which, in truth, was briefer and less violent than you would expect (though, worryingly, at least one steward appears to strike an Albanian player). Within 15 seconds of the Balaj chair shot — check the video — fighting appeared to have stopped on the pitch. To their credit, many of the players on both sides tried to remain calm and defuse the situation.

UEFA opened disciplinary cases against both countries over the match. Besides the brawls on the pitch, the Albanian anthem was loudly jeered by Serbian fans before the game in Belgrade and derogatory chants were heard throughout. Serbian supporters also threw flares and other objects at Albanian players, as well as attacking them on the field.

3. African Tussle.

The AFCON 2015 is getting closer and the African continent look set to get the other 15 teams to join hosts Morocco – that is if they finally host it – to battle for the Cup. With the rise and reign of Ebola, the Moroccan FA have suggested they postpone the tournament to a latter date. CAF would sit to make a final decision.

Prior to CAF’s upcoming discussion, the continent watched as some giants killers had their victory while others struggled to get a win with very few enforcing their game and grabbing the early ticket to the Nations Cup. Cape Verde and Algeria booked their tickets within the break. Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Mali tasted defeat and victory. The tussle is still on and will resume finally in November. Who will miss out?

4. There is A country called Nigeria

Nigeria finally got their first qualifiers victory after defeating Sudan 3-1 in the Abuja stadium. Goals from Aaron Samuel and a brace from Ahmed Musa gave Stephen Keshi a reason to smile but his smile was short-lived as he sacked hours later. The former Super Eagles captain had been coaching the Eagles without contract and have had bad results in recent times must have been stunned to be shown the doors out of the glass house. With 2 games to go, the Super Eagles had their destiny in their hands and many expected the NFF to allow Keshi fall woefully or perform a magic to get Nigeria to AFCON 2015. But it seems, new NFF Chairman Amajuvu had other options and needed to flex his muscles.

So for the 5th time, Nigeria has appointed Shuaibu Amodu as the coach, although in the caretaking role to see the Eagles to AFCON 2015. If he doesn’t, he surely will fall back on “I took a poor team”. If he does, the NFF will forget the 3-1 victory. If he does and is sacked, the statiticians will say “for the umpteenth time, He qualified the team for a tourney without participating in the tourney”

For me Keshi should have been allowed to at least finish the remaining two games of the qualifiers. Who knows, he may have taken us their. For now, Amodu is the new bride. NFF, recycling coaches since 1860.

5. Arsenal – Walcott, Ozil and Injuries.

The Arsenal interest is always there even if there are no games to see the darling team showcase their skills on the favoured green turfs across England and Europe. Ozil’s injury soured Arsenal’s start to the break with news that he will be out for 12 weeks. Wenger claimed he heard a crack in the Chelsea defeat but played on with the minor discomfrot. The less-worse news is that, he will be out for just 6 weeks instead of the earlier 12 weeks.

Walcott Gnabry

Walcott returned to full training during the break after over 9 months sidelined with an injury. The speedster returned to training with Serge Gnabry and may feature for the U21 or against Hull at the Emirates. Ramsey is expected to return for the Champions League game against Anderlect. Koscienly is off for about two weeks. Arteta is back to reduce Flamini’s flaminization. There is even an odd news of Diaby mentoring Sanogo – injury mentor?

These injuries will gave chances to some young players since the Prof refused to fortify his defence in the transfer window. Expect to see Isaac Hayden partner Metersacker in the heart of defence with Hector Bellerin hugging the right wing.

That was my internationl break. how was yours?

ICYMI: Suarez is back.

Enjoy

 

Finally Nigeria Gets A Win With Ahmed Musa’s Brace

Nigeria defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina in Brazil to progress to the 2nd round of the 2014 World Cup. That was the last time Nigeria knew how it felt to celebrate a win. Several games down the line, the Super Eagles have struggled with getting a win and have had to make do with defeats to lowly rated teams in Africa. The AFCON 2015 qualifiers started poorly for the Super Eagles with just one point from three games. With 3 games left, Nigeria had only one option: “Win The Last Three Games”

Ahmed Musa scored a brace in the Abuja National Stadium as Nigeria got their first win in the qualifiers. The CSKA Moscow forward who also grabbed a brace against Argentina in the World Cup opened scoring in the 48th after collecting a pass from Mikel Obi, technically easing through the Sudanese defence to place the ball beyond the goalie.

Ahmed Musa-Keshi

The Eagles were stunned 7 minutes later as the Sudanese got a breakaway equalizer through Salah Ibrahim. China based Aaron Samuel scored a difficult volley from his left foot to restore the African Champions’ lead in the 66th Minute following a defensive mix up between the Sudanese goalie and his defender. Musa made sure of all three points late on following a defensive lapse on the 90th minute before being substituted to a sounding ovation from the crowd.

Lessons from the Victory:

  • Ahmed Musa is Nigeria’s current best player.
  • Mikel Obi can be better if he wishes to be
  • Aaron Samuel had a great game. So did Juwon Oshinawa and Raheem Lawal.
  • There is something wrong the center backs.
  • Emenike needs striking help
  • Destiny in the Eagles’ hands

In the other group game, South Africa and Congo played out a goalless draw in South Africa. The result keeps South Africa on top of group A with 8 points, closely followed by Congo with 7 points. Nigeria is third with 4 points with Sudan bottom with 3 points.

Other interesting results from the African continent includes Congo DR’s 4-3 win away to Cote D’Ivoire. The Ivoirens came from behind twice to level scores at 3-3 but the Zaire boys grabbed a late winner to deny the Elephants a home victory. 10 man Ethiopia also grabbed a win in Bamako with a 3-2 victory over hosts Mali. The east Africans lost the first leg 2-0 few days ago at home.

The Full Results (Match day 3 and 4):

Group A
Congo 0-2 South Africa
Sudan 1-0 Nigeria
Nigeria 3-1 Sudan
South Africa 0-0 Sudan

Group B

Malawi 0-2 Algeria
Ethiopia 0-2 Mali
Algeria 3-0 Malawi
Mali 2-3 Ethiopia

Group C
Lesotho 0-0 Angola
Gabon 2-0 Burkina Faso
Angola 4-0 Lesotho
Burkina Faso 1-1 Gabon

Group D

DR Congo 1-2 Cote d’Ivoire
Sierra Leone 0-0 Cameroon
Cameroon 2-0 Sierra Leone
Cote d’Ivoire 3-4 DR Congo

Group E

Guinea 1-1 Ghana
Uganda 0-1 Togo
Ghana 3-1 Guinea
Togo 1-0 Uganda

Group F
Niger 0-0 Zambia
Mozambique 2-0 Cape Verde
Cape Verde 1-0 Mozambique
Zambia 3-0 Niger

Group G

Botswana 0-2 Egypt
Senegal 0-0 Tunisia
Egypt 2-0 Botswana
Tunisia 0-2 Senegal

As it stands, Algeria continued from where they stopped in the World cup. They are yet to drop a point in this qualifiers winning all of their 4 games played. Algeria has qualified for Morocco 2015. South Africa, Gabon, Cameroon, Ghana and Tunisia are the remaining unbeaten side in the qualifiers. Giants Egypyt, Cote D’Ivoire and Nigeria have a lot of work to do if they are to be in Morocco come January 2015. Kudos to Cape Verde, Mozambique, DR Congo and Congo for making the qualifiers more difficult for the bigger teams.

What an African Break.

The Wingless Eagles And The International Break

My football knowledge started with Nigeria’s exploit in Africa (1994), the world cup (94) and the Olympics (96). I had grown with any football game that has a Nigerian tag on it. The age grade competition and female competition have consistently given Nigerians joy but the Senior team has been a major concern.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria played their 3rd AFCON 2015 qualifiers away to Sudan but came home with no points thanks to a 1-0 loss. The Super Eagles are now rock bottom of the group with a single point. The chances of qualifying is very slim. Nigeria will need to win all of the remaining 3 games to stand a chance of being in Morocco.

It is saddening that Nigeria have gone wingless and have managed just one victory in their last 12 games, losing 5 and drawing 6. The 1-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Worldcup was the last win. Keshi’s reign has taken a twist and all his initial success has been splashed with this recent failure spiced with his contract issues with the NFF. A return leg win against Sudan will be a better way to go for the Eagles.

While the male team continue to suffer defeat in the hands of minnows, the female team started their African Women Championship on a flying note. The Falcons defeated Cote D’Ivoire 4-2 with Desire Oparanozie grabbing a brace. The Falcons will hope to regain their lost trophy.

In Europe, some unexpected result made neutrals like me excited. Diego Costa continued his Spanish curse as the former world champions were beaten 2-1 by Slovakia. Germany also got their 1st qualifying defeat in years as Poland beat the Worldcup winners 2-0 with Szczesny grabbing the Man of the match award keeping the Poles ahead.

In England, Welbeck continued his international form as he grabbed a goal before being subbed as England beat San Marino 5-0. Chamberlain got two assists with Wilshere effecting the game positively.

The first half of the international break broke the hearts of the Gunners after news that Ozil will be out for about 12 weeks. The gunners have been severly hit by injury. It is now becoming a norm, sadly. Just when you think that Walcott will return to benefit from Ozil, the German goes out on injury. The gods of injury have been unfair.

The Nigeria Premier League continued over the weekend with week 32 games played across the nation.
Gombe United 2-1 Enyimba
Bayelsa United 1-2 Warri Wolves
Sharks 1-0 Kano Pillars
Kaduna United 0-0 El-Kanemi Warriors
Crown FC 1-1 Giwa FC
FC Taraba 2-0 Dolphins
Heartland 3-0 Sunshine Stars
Nasarawa United 3-2 Nembe City
Lobi Stars 2-0 Rangers
Akwa United 0-0 Abia Warriors

The 1st half of the break have been mixed for me: Roger Federer’s Shanghai win, Hamilton’s Sochi win, Bendtner’s assist, Iceland victory and Nigeria’s defeat.

Enjoy

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