Wednesday Soccer Yarns: The Emirates Draw and Many more

After a wet Tuesday night in the city of Lagos, the sun has risen to its utmost casting its shadows over the islands of Lagos and the metropolitan city thereof. It is a Wednesday afternoon a meeting point between the start of the week and the end of the week. This is the top of the mid-week and by night fall the wind of the weekend will begin to gather and in the footballing world, the weekend games will begin to gather momentum.

Last weekend at the Emirates, I had looked forward to couple of battles; I looked forward to Wenger’s quest to get a win over Mourinho in his 13th try. Unfortunately for the french professor, his lads were found wanting in the final third. Wenger had his game plan but the execution was not 100%. The introduction of Welbeck and Walcott may be questioned especially seeing that they added little or nothing to the final third.

The Back 4 held their lines but were caught wanting twice. Ospina had to send Oscar to the hospital after the Brazilian was sent through by returning Fabregas. Ospina had to deny Ramires a clear cut opportunity latter on.

It was a game of penalties not given and cards not shown. It was game where Fabregas went a diving yet expects to be in many good books. It was a game where the fans were divided over whether to applaud Fabregas for his previous services or to boo him for the way he left the club and even joined Chelsea after he swore never to. He was booed and applauded.
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Sanchez failed to spark any fire, neither was Hazard able to get pass young Bellerin. Bellerin kept Hazard at bay and won the Man of the match award with a very good display. Would Debuchy have fared better? No. Sanchez although will need to take the easier routes for the good of the team. Sometimes he holds the ball too long and thus disrupts a certain turbulent flow.

This was a game of near misses and no direct danger to the Chelsea goalie. It was a game Coquelin enjoyed the tackle, had a yellow for his worries and was superb in the middle, snuffing off balls from Blue shirted rent boys and giving it to either of Cazorla or the pea-eyed Ozil. 

Mourinho came – just like before – for a draw and he got what he desired – a 0-0 draw – to send his rent boys to jubilation with the knowledge that they still have a 10 points lead over the gunners. They will face Leicester City today, aiming to increase the gap to 13 points. Wenger will have to wait for the Community Shield at the beginning of next season to have another chance to face Mourinho. An FA Cup trophy and a 2nd place league finish will just be fine.

Forget Henry, he must be riding on the love the fans have for him. Gunnerblog can tell you more but this summarizes it:
“Arsenal do need to make additions if they are to challenge Chelsea next year. However, Henry’s appraisal is otherwise unduly negative. Arsenal are closer than he thinks, and that much was evident in the match with Chelsea. Since the turn of the year, Wenger’s side has faced both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea without suffering defeat. His words sound like those of a pundit looking to make his mark on the broadcast world. In his desire to appear objective, Henry has gone too far.” – GunnerBlog

The weekend wasn’t as sweet as I had wanted but i took solace in Everton’s 3-0 bashing of Manchester United. The gunners will face Hull city coming weekend and they will hope to break the defence that have two consecutive clean sheets which includes a 1-0 win over Liverpool. The Reds seem to love the Europa so much. Will they ever return to the Champions League. They just came for this season’s UCL like a 1 year national service. Brendan Rodgers will have a lot of explanation to make.

If English football was all i looked forward to then i doubt i will be complete. The Nigerian Premier League added its twists and turns to my weekend with wins for Enyimba and Kano Pillars. There were no away wins like the penultimate weekend but there were goals and Mfom Udoh seems to have caught his groove. He is already back to the top of the scorers chart. He needs to be the face of Enyimba’s advertisement and deals. 
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Did you enjoy Barca’s 6-0 demolition of Getafe? or you preferred Dortmund’s victory over Bayern? How on earth did Bayern miss 4 consecutive spot kicks? I will be looking forward to two more games before the weekend proper: A. Bielefied vs Wolfsburg and Heartland vs Kano Pillars.

For now, it is time to have an African delicacy for lunch.

Arsenal vs Chelsea: More Than A 90 Minutes Game

…Cazorla’s corner is lofted into the Chelsea box, mishandled by Courtois, the Belgian goalie. Terry scrambles it away but it ricochets off Sanchez to Fabregas’ path who tries to starts a lovely counter only to square the ball to Aaron Ramsey who wastes no time in putting Sanchez through for a sublime finish….goal…goal…goal… ”

The shout of goal woke my flat mate up and he rushed in to wake me up from my slumber. I had a smile on my face – a smile i hope Wenger will have after the 90 minutes encounter with Mourinho at the Emirates on Sunday. It was a dream but there is no Gunner that won’t have a dig at Chelsea if Mourinho loses on Sunday to Wenger especially for those who have added Cesc Fabregas to their black books for joining Chelsea.

I still remember how we lost 3-1 to FC Barcelona in a game that RvP saw red. Fabregas assisted Xavi et al in one of their goals and i would grin from east to west if he assists Sanchez or Ramsey to grab Arsenal’s winning goal. Virtually every player is a mercenary. Forget those quote of love for the club. Money answereth all things.

The game is almost all about Jose and Arsene. 12 times the two coaches have squared up against themselves, 12 times with the same club, 12 times Wenger have failed to win the Portuguese. This will be their 13th affair and Wenger will hope it doesn’t end up like the 12th, where he shoved Mourinho like a little brat in a 2-0 lose or his 1000th Arsenal game where he had 6 for dinner.

Arsene Wenger (left) and Mourinho have over a decade of history in the Premier League 

Arsene may down play the fact that it is about Mourinho and him but we all know deep down that he longs to grab Mourinho by the scruff of his neck and shove him off to a good defeat – maybe a 6-0 payback. Will Wenger get his first win over Mourinho?

The gunners are in form and this might be the best time to start a new record. The FA cup final looks a more certain path to Silverware with Aston Villa the last stumbling block but the Premier League is 10pts away. This 10pts can be reduced to 7pts if and only if Arsenal defeat Chelsea on Sunday.

Mathematically, if we win, it [the title] will be possible, but Chelsea have their future and the championship in their hands. What we can do is get closer to them, and we have an opportunity to that at home. We want to take it. – Wenger

Chelsea may go on to win the League but Arsenal must finish the new habit of winning against the top4 with those victories over the Manchester brothers and the Red half of Liverpool. 8 straight wins in the league is no ordinary feat, though Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 12 games. A victory on Sunday will move the Gunners away from Manchester City and Manchester United and most likely give them a better place in the UEFA champions League seeding following the new seeding system.

The race for the PFA player of the year is on and Hazard seems to be leading the race with Sanchez and Kane chasing vigorously. It will be a showdown for Hazard and Sanchez. One will need to outplay the other to make a case for that award. Chelsea’s regular 1-0 Hazard wins will be enough especially if it is aided by the opposition goalies gifting them a cheap goal. Sanchez will need to be on his bestest best and make Chelsea pay for their sins with nothing less than a brace. It will be fun to see Terry and Ivanovic turned around by the Chilean.

This game will also give us a good comparison between Matic and our new found detective Coquelin. Le Coq’s assignment will be to arrest Fabregas, obstruct Hazard and prepare the table for Cazorla and Ozil to confuse Matic. Coquelin has been on a meteoric rise and there is no better game to showcase your talent than against a bitter rival.

There will be no Costa Biscuit and Remy Martins but Gabriel and Koscienly must keep Didier Drogba in check. He seems to always have Arsenal’s control numbers. The gunners must be ready for any Chelsea counter attack because Mourinho’s game plan at the Emirates have always been defensive.

Chelsea have been very, very efficient on counter-attacks, very efficient on set-pieces as well, so to nullify their strengths will be important

In 169 matches, Arsenal have won 66 compared to Chelsea’s 55 with the 6-0 defeat being Arsenal’s greatest loss to the West Londoners. Will the gunners make it their 67th win? 90 minutes will tell.

A win will surely have its positive in my new week. Come on You Gunners.

Enjoy and get ready.

@AmosCP

The Five: Arsenal, FA Cup and Three Away Wins in the NPFL

Last weekend was eventful for me, check out my top five highlights

Arsenal Sanchez Through To The FA Cup Final

Arsenal squirmed, hopped, snicked, and Sanchezed through Reading to book a place in the FA Cup final. The Gunners opened scoring just before the 1st half break through Alexis Sanchez. The Royals came out of the break stronger and got an equalizer thanks to a lil’ deflection from Gibbs past Szczesny. The game went into extra time like Arsenal’s previous two games against lower league opposition and as expected the gunners came out tops with a goal from the Chilean Rottweiler. The ball squirmed through Frederici’s arms, through his legs and slowly across the line. It was excruciating for the goalie who had pulled out great saves all day, only to summarize with such error. It was like Szczesny-2011 reloaded. The ground refused to open for the poor goalie.

Adam Federici

Please Don’t Go…..

 

A win is a win, A semifinal win grants you a ticket to the final. Wembley again!!! Beerhugz again!!!!

Micheal Owen Should Be Taken Seriously

Liverpool were beaten by Aston Villa by same margin Arsenal defeated Reading. Liverpool looked so downtrodden. It was their only option to get close to a silverware especially with Legend Gerrard leaving in the summer. The defeat was icing to my Arsenal-winning cake because it validates the facts that Micheal Owen should be taken seriously, if you understand what i mean. Why so much hatred for Arsenal from a former bench warmer? He has always gotten it wrong predicting against Arsenal. He must have gone to the wrong VooDoo school to learn such horrendous skill. How does he sleep after such revelations.

Liverpool will win the FA Cup, Arsenal won’t make Premier League Top4, Sterling better than Ozil….

 

Sorry Liverpool, You may still get the Europa League if…..

Arsenal Remain 2nd Without Kicking a League Ball

Manchester United went to Stamford Bridge, did the playing and played into Mourinho’s tactical plan before given away all three points that may have seen them leapfrog Arsenal to 2nd place and give Chelsea one last chase. Unfortunately, LVG will have to leave the chasing to Arsenal, although near impossible. The defeat for the Red Devils means Arsenal can go 4 points clear if they win their outstanding game. This will be an improvement to last season’s 4th. Can we still chase Chelsea? I don’t see Chelsea losing anytime soon. Hopefully they fall at the Emirates with Wenger getting his first win over Jose Mourinho

Three Away Wins in The Nigeria Premier League.

Sometimes you look at the results of the Nigeria Premier League and you see a high percentage of home wins characterized by 1-0 wins or late late penalties. Last week was different with three clean away wins with even the home fans applauding the away team for being the better side unlike in previous times where it could have lead to an uproar from the home fans. The league is taking bold steps forward and it is heartwarming to note that the NFF have recently suspended two referees that had a poor day in the week.

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Heartland….100% Efficiency

 

Has the away wins be spurred by the extra reward attached to away wins? See the full results of the week 4 fixtures.

Kano Pillars 1-0 Enyimba
Bayelsa Utd 1-0 FC Taraba
Kwara Utd 1-3 Heartland
Lobi Stars 2-2 Sharks
Akwa Utd 1-0 Gabros FC
Rangers 0-1 Giwa FC
Abia Warriors 1-2 Wikki Tourists
Nasarawa Utd 0-0 Shooting Stars
Sunshine Stars 2-1 Dolphins

Others

The NFF are yet to sign a deal with Keshi. The political romance continues with shadows cast over the Super Eagles. How can we forge ahead with our eyes blindfolded? I hear Amokachi will not continue as Keshi’s assistant when he signs the deal.

The beach soccer team lost 4-3 to Senegal in the semi final of the Beach Soccer tournament in Seychelles. Winners Madagascar will represent Africa alongside Senegal in the world cup.

What a weekend. Mid week actions return in the Nigeria Premier League…

Enjoy

Another Wembley Game, Another FA Cup Semi Final, Another Reading…

About this time last year, we were in the same situation but with a poor precedence – No title for ages. The Cup meant like heaven to us and a defeat to Wigan would have been suicidal for the team and most probably for Wenger. The game was heading in the wrong direction for the Gunners until the BFG rescued the Arsene-ship with a header before Monreal had the last kick of the game during the penalty resulting penalty shoot out that led us to the Final.

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Can we bear such heart-ache again in quick succession? I doubt any Gooner in the Milky way would like such especially seeing that we are on some earth-shattering form in the league with 8 straight wins and a sudden surge to the second spot on the league behind Chelsea. The Premier League looks only mathematically possible but arithmetic and football are not always in agreement because football is broken into 90 minutes decision period that can change the direction of any team – ask Pellegrini, he will tell you better.

Today, Arsene will contest his 10th FA Cup semi final and aiming for his 6th FA cup trophy and he is damn proud of that fact.

You do not play 10 semi-finals if you do not prepare properly for these games. I’m proud of that consistency. It’s still the same excitement in a game like that as it was in the first one. – Arsene Wenger

Reading have my country man The Yak and you know the rhymes – Feed The Yak ….. Hopefully the Arsenal detective, Le Coq or cuts that feed. The Royals are in the lower half of the Championship and have won just 2 of their last 12 games. But those records don’t count in a cup game that can bring silverware to the club. Reading have never beaten Arsenal before but you know how records can be. They always love to be broken.

Who remembers that drama in the Madejski stadium where the gunners were starring at elimination with less than 40mins played in the game, down by 4-0. How the gunners turned that game around to win 7-5 is still like an 8th wonder of football. Martinez, Coquelin, Walcott, Gnabry and Giroud featured in that game with Bellerin an unused substitute. Theo Walcott grabbed a hattrick with Chamakh a brace to see off the Royals in my greatest comeback in football. Hopefully Walcott gets a taste of action today to aid his contractual situation.

Winning the FA Cup and finishing above 4th will be an improvement to last season’s drama. Thanks to Danny Welbeck and his Manchester heroics, we have a date with Reading today. Don’t miss it. Wembley!!!!!! Here we come!!!!!!! May 30 on our minds!!!!

Enjoy your game.

Follow Blog on twitter @SoccerGunz

@AmosCP

A Dose of Nigerian Football, Another Pillars – Enyimba Show

The weekend draws closer with such alarming speed faster than Louis Hamilton’s Mercedes. It seems like yesterday that Arsenal scrapped a 1-0 win in the English Premier League and same week the political actions in Nigeria halted for the second time in recent time, the footballing league activities of the Nation. I am a gooner but first a Nigerian and my interest in Nigerian football gives me another pair of glasses to look at football.

The weekend brings us to a mouth watery clash which will most likely be a sun baking clash in the city of Kano with host and current Champions of Nigeria, Kano Pillars welcoming the Peoples Elephant of Aba, two time African Champions. Unfortunately, the game will only be live on twitter not on TV to the glory of the management of the League and the TV sponsors. The Kano boys will be hoping to get another one better than their Aba counterpart especially after they were both booted out of the CAF Champions League in the same round during the Easter.

THE RIVALRY REIGNITE: KANO PILLARS V ENYIMBA FC

(felele247.com)

The CAF Champions league exit hurt me so much especially seeing that Enyimba lost to a mid table team in Egypt that may even be renting a stadium in Cairo. How the peoples elephant conceded two late goals is yet to be digested in my bowels. A 1-0 first victory in Aba was not enough and the Aba millionaires will rue all the wasted chances. Unfortunately Khadiri Ikhana could not produce the magic that made him lead Enyimba to their first CAF Champions league title.

I had hoped that Enyimba would give Nigeria a degree of pride because they had played a day after Kano Pillars were kicked out. Pillars’ defeat was not earth shattering stuff. They have only been to the group stage once in their entire history and in recent years they have never crossed the red sea of the first round round. Upturning a 4-0 1st leg defeat would have been the 8th wonder of the World.

Only Warri Wolves gave the happy people of Nigeria a reason to smile. They have progressed to the second round of the CAF Confederation cup with a good record. Their colleague, Dolphins were knocked out of the cup no thanks to poor management, the bane of Nigerian football.

Back to the league… the biggest game is in Kano and Pillars have a scary home record where they have not lost in the League since Issa Hayatou became president of CAF, UEFA and FIFA. Heartland FC were the last team to nick a victory in Kano and it was in a CAF Champions League semifinal. Pillars will be without Gambo Mohammed, no thanks to injuries he suffered from gun shots while travelling to honour a game. Enyimba will hope to bank on their recent state Federation cup victory and hope that Mfom Udoh, the reigning player of the season gets his scoring boots right.

For more Enyimba rants, check out That Enyimba Fan

GloNPFL Game Week 4 Fixtures

Pride is up for stake in Kano and other 9 venues across the federation. The Sunday fixtures are listed below.

Kano Pillars Vs Enyimba
Bayelsa United Vs Taraba
Kwara United Vs Heartland
Lobi Stars Vs Sharks
Akwa United Vs Ifeanyi Uba
Enugu Rangers Vs Giwa
Sunshine Stars Vs Dolphins
Warri Wolves Vs El Kanemi Warriors
Abia Warriors Vs Wikki Tourist
Nasarawa United Vs Shooting Stars

Coach of the Super Eagles?

Talking pride, I wonder who takes the pride for leaving the Super Eagles without a coach since their failure to qualify for AFCON 2015. The Sack-no-sack romance of Stephen Keshi since after the Brazil 2014 worldcup is just like a Telemundo soap opera. We have flirted for so long and the football administrators seem to be confused and just allow one man to hold the country at ransom. Whether he is being owned unpaid salaries is another dimension yet to be determined but the gradual rot after the assumed rise of the Super Eagles should worry every Nigeria fan. We keep sliding down the FIFA monthly ranking, aiming to be as low as Tahiti. How Wales is 22 and Nigeria is below 40 tells you how our football have grown in the past 9 months.

The Super Eagles must wake up and take football seriously. It is like a religion here and we still feel the pain of missing out of the last AFCON in Equatorial Guinea. The home based eagles must also look forward to doing better in the next championship. The Sand Eagles are doing well in Seychelles and hopefully they return with the trophy. The Ladies are on another level, hopefully they don’t stagnate like their male counterpart.

Hopefully, the Nigerian League will rise. I unrest my case.

Ramsey’s Saving Goal, The Manchester Derby and The Champions League

The Goalkeepers association of the Premier League have been congratulated by the Special one in their contribution to gifting maximum three points to Chelsea. Spokesman of the Goalies have reiterated their effort to make sure Chelsea get all maximum points even if they are fatigued and without Costa and Remy. A couple of goalies in the red half of London and red half of Manchester have revolted seeing that their teams have a mathematical chance of catching up with Chelsea.

Aaron Ramsey scores against Burnley

Aaron Ramsey’s 11th minute goal gifted Arsenal a 1-0 victory away to Burnley. The Wales midfielder found the roof of the net in the 11th minute after Mesut Ozil’s shot was saved and Alexis’ follow-up ricocheted off two defenders. In a game where Olivier Giroud had his 100th Premier League start, Ramsey got the goods delivered on his 150th Arsenal appearance.

The game had its twist and turns but you must applaud the services of Nacho Monreal and the latest detective in town: Coquelin. They kept Burnley at bay with Ospina pulling at saves to keep his clean sheet. Szczesny will only wait till the beginning of next season to see if he could usurp the Colombian. Hard earned 3 points, though not as fluid-y as against Liverpool.

The Manchester derby was talk of the town but the blue side came out losers in a 6 goal encounter. Aguero grabbed a brace but the Devils kept the pressure on Arsenal in the race to the end of the season. The Red Devils are a point behind the Gunners and will hope to continue the chase till after game week 38.

How Manchester City have been sliding without brakes is alarming. The 4-2 loss to their red neighbours have drawn them into the 4th place trophy challenge with Liverpool and Southampton who are 4 and 5 points away respectively. Will City be in the Champions League? Will Pellegrini be sacked? Some school of thoughts say they have caught the 4th place bug from Arsenal seeing that they bought a good number of 4th placing players from Ashburton Grove.

Talking of Champions League, Madrid will be on fire tonight with Atletico Madrid hosting Real Madrid in the first leg of the Quarterfinals. Hopefully Atletico proves a point tonight. Other fixtures can be found this info-graphics from Ivan J.

For now, have a good game in Madrid. For the Gunners, don’t stop dreaming.

Enjoy.

Last Weekend Just Four Arsenal

Four sweet goals, four goal scorers and Arsenal moved to the 2nd spot and stayed there thanks to Crystal Palace’s 2-1 victory over Manchester City.

I almost missed a wedding on Saturday while watching Kolo Toure turned from east to west by Arsenal’s frontmen. Sterling auditioned at the Emirates but failed to convert when giving the opportunity.

I have watched the goals over and over again. Each time producing goose bumps on my skin. Bellerin scoring with his left foot, Ozil curling into the corner, Sanchez’s blazer and Giroud’s creme de la cremè. Clean sweet passes with Coquelin doing his normal duties without breaking sweat.

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Cazorla would curse the upright and Ospina would rue the penalty conceded by Bellerin that dented his clean sheet.  Ramsey worked his socks off and had to be replaced. Koscielny gave way for Gabriel no-joy. It was like a revenge to last season’s disaster at Anfield.

Bellerin would surely be grateful to have escaped a second booking but the gunners will thank goodness that Sterling didn’t have positional instincts of Inzaghi or the sliding boots of Bendtner.

3 points and Chelsea is 7pts away. Can we dare to dream? A gracious winning streak, can we continue till GW39? A game at a time will be enough especially seeing that Sagna had carried our 4th burden to City. Oooh, how he loved Arsenal.

Last weekend had a number of beautiful goals. Rooney had a nice one but Charlie Adam’s 65 yards goal stands out for me. Behold my best pix of the year:

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Charlie Adam's Goal

Begovic gifted Chelsea all 3 points in a game that Costa played for as many minutes it will take for a cookie to get soft in water.

In case you don’t know: Diaby is playing for a contract. The hustle is real. And Szczesny is being useful with the cameras. Poor Szczesny.

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Arsene Contract! !!

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Save the shots

It was a sad weekend for Nigeria but i will leave that for the next post.

Enjoy.

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By Chibuzor Amos (@AmosCP)
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