The Five: Besiktas 0-0 Arsenal

Arsenal began their quest to be in the group stage of the UEFA Champions league with a 0-0 draw in Turkey. The gunners finished the game with 10men with Aaron Ramsey getting two yellow cards with 10 minutes to play.

Match report, Wengers comment, ratings.

Canons from Turkey.
1. Arsenal cannot rely on Giroud and Sanogo.
Yaya Sanogo was all over the place against Crystal Palace with clumsy touches, rough edges and no shot on goal. In came Giroud, back to the starting line up only to equate himself with his country statistically and clumsy-cally. Olivier Giroud completed less than 60% of his passes having no shot at goal.

“@EPLStatman: Olivier Giroud failed to have a single shot on target against Besiktas and only completed 52% of his 29 passes #AFC #Arsenal”
“@enigma106: looool RT @eromzy: Lmaooooooooooo “@f_osa: Abi arsenal de owe Giroud money? What on earth is this nonsense?!””

Can Wenger rely on these frenchmen to win the Premier league? I strongly doubt that. Their potency is woeful, and their clumsiness is amongst the best in the League. Just when you think Giroud will get better, he gives gooners worldwide a plate of bile to digest. Giroud has to be awake. A new, sharper striker may help. What of Campbell? Wenger….

2. Clean Sheet, Ba Sheet.
Two names sounded familiar in the Besiktas team: Demba Ba and Oguzhan. The later, an Arsenal youth FA cup winner and the former, prevented from joining Arsenal. Ba tested Szczesny twice in the game but the Pole kept his sheets.

This is Arsenal’s first clean sheet of the season, although it came in the 2nd game. Clean sheets promotes the confidence of the goalie especially after he has made some fantastic saves. Ba may have not scored but he was a threat unlike his counterpart in red and white.

3. One Game, One Injury.
Captain Mikel Arteta wobbled off the game due to injury and was replaced by Flamini. Few days ago, Gibbs had to give way for Monreal. We are yet to know the extent of Arteta’s injury but these injuries call for some concerns.

Has the injury gods visited Arsenal again? Well, we have a new physio. I hope he fixes this. Even Koscielny looks like he is carrying a knock. Arsenal will benefit from a full squad. Hope we don’t another player in a 3rd game of the season against Everton.

4. Red Aaron, Yellow Elijah

Two cheap yellow cards and Arsenal’s balon d’or got his matching others. The first red of the season. A shirt tug and an easy route made difficult will deprive the Emirates faithfuls the opportunity to watch Ramsey run the show in the return leg. Hopefully Ozil is back and fit by next week.

As for Elijah, he rains brimstone everytime. Elijah Flamini is always sure of drinking a yellow label tea in the name of defensive duties. The hatchet man, returning from industrial attachment will need to be more careful else he fugacity and over the top agility will cost Arsenal dearly. Afterall, he doesn’t need to cut his shirts again.

5. The Return leg will be easier.

Yes, the gunners were not at their best, misplacing passes, mistiming runs, unlucky shots but the return looks certain for a goal harvest. Chambers and Koscielny were solid. So ware the full backs.

At the luxury of the Emirates, hopefully Sanchez will get his 1st goal and Ozil will feature. Tonight’s game was poor and looked like Arsenal’s first preseason game.

A draw is better than a lose. For now, let’s focus on Goodison Park.

Enjoy

Nigeria Wahala: Keshi, The NFF List and The NPFL

Yes, the gunners are in Turkey and hopefully they have turkey for dinner. But as Nigerian, Nigerian football still takes a percentage of my footballing mind. Nigerians love football and do follow the Premier League with intense passion.

Since the ouster of the Super Eagles in the 2nd round of the Brazil 2014 world cup, so many things have happened to my dear country. The NFF chairman have been impeached, reinstated and maybe re-elected. FIFA has banned the country, albeit for few days and Stephen Keshi sits on the fence on whether he continues to be the coach of the team or he takes up another offer from a better-paying country.

While Keshi and the Nigerian Football Federation are at cold war over paid or unpaid or projected salaries, the business of the pitch draws closer with the AFCON 2015 qualifiers in about two weeks time. The Nigeria populace awaits the outcome of this tussle but Congo DR doesn’t care. They will hope that the Super Eagles are in a state of fugacious lack of coordination to cause a big damage to the defending champion’s hope of being in Morocco.

By hook or crook, a list was realeased by the NFF and behold some new, relative new names with respect to the just concluded world cup were on the team. My favourite returnee is Schalke’s Chinedu Obasi Ogbuke. I am yet to understand why and how he missed the trip to Brazil. The NFF also invited Sone Aluko and Joel Obi. The list also has 5 home based players making waves in the Glo Nigeria Premier League. Premier League trio of Osaze Odemwingwe, Brown Ideye and Victor Moses were left out.

So behold the list….

Goalkeepers:
Vincent Enyeama (Lille OSC, France), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel), Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United, Nigeria)

Defenders:
Elderson Echiejile (Monaco FC, France), Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel), Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland), Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor FC, Turkey), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves, Nigeria), Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough FC, England), Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars, Nigeria)

Midfielders:
John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England), Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy), Ramon Azeez (Almeria FC, Spain), Joel Obi (Inter Milan, Italy), Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis, Spain), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Omatsone Aluko (Hull City, England)

Forwards:
Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey), Chinedu Obasi (Schalke 04, Germany), Uche Nwofor (Heerenveen FC, Netherlands), Nnamdi Oduamadi (AS Varese 1910, Italy), Gbolahan Salami (Warri Wolves, Nigeria), Christian Osaguona (Enugu Rangers, Nigeria)

So who will coach the boys against Congo DR?

The Glo Premier League was lit last weekend by the Abia Classico, the Abia version of El Classico. Dubbed as the Abia Derby, it was an opportunity for Enyimba FC of Aba to get a revenge over their neighbours Abia Warriors but the game ended in a 3-3 draw. The game was more exciting than most of the games in the opening day of the premier league.

Other results include:
Abia Warriors 3 – 3 Enyimba International FC
Bayelsa United 3 – 0 Kaduna United FC
Sunshine Stars 0 – 0 Dolphins FC
Warri Wolves FC 2 – 1 Kano Pillars
Lobi Stars FC 1 – 0 Nasarawa United FC
Akwa United FC 1 – 0 El-Kanemi Warriors FC
Heartland FC 2 – 0 Gombe United FC
Rangers International FC 1 – 0 Giwa FC
Taraba FC 1 – 1 Nembe City
Crown FC 2 – 0 Sharks FC

That is my Nigeria. Don’t forget the girls will play against Korea DPR in the Semi finals of the U-20 Female worldcup. Let me catch the game in Turkey. The Falconets dispatched host Canada 4-1 in the quarter final and would hope to achieve a similar result over Korea DPR.

Enjoy

The Five: Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace

Arsenal began their 2014/15 Premier League campaign with a London derby against Crystal Palace at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger gave competitive debuts to 3 of his new signings as the Gunners came from behind to grab three points very late in the game. Crystal Palace, without their saviour Tony Pulis, were expected to lose but Hangeland’s header stunned the Emirates and made them remember the first day of the previous season. But Lauret Koscielny made up for his error by equalizing on the dot of 45 minutes.

Arsenal.com Match Report, Wenger’s Comment, Player Ratings.

So what are the five?

1. Zonal Marking – The better?

Towering: Brede Hangeland rises above the Arsenal defence to give Palace the lead on 35 minutes

Set pieces has been Arsenal’s Achilles heel in recent years. The numbers reduced last season but during preseason, Arsenal conceded goals from set pieces. The same scenario exhibited itself against Crystal Palace as Hangeland ran in to head in the Opener. I dislike discussing tactics but a mobile player has more momentum than a static one. The FA champions may be missing the leadership attributes of Per Metersacker who does well enough against aerial threats. Giroud may even had done better there but he was on the bench. Can the gunners vary Man marking with zonal marking? over to Bould.

2. Sanogo needs a loan.

He doesn’t need a car loan or house loan but Yaya Sanogo is yet to be the striker to keep Giroud on his toes or usurp Giroud from the starting line up. The Emirates Cup four-goal lord could not muster a shot on goal or even off target. Well, Giroud didn’t score but his header throw spanner in the Palace defensive works as Debuchy shot was smothered to Ramsey’s path. Enough of this pampering and pseudo-hyping, Yaya Sanogo needs to have a good one year loan in another club. Either a Premier League club or a Championship side. I love his work rate but he needs to cut down on his clumsiness and utilize less space while trying make something out of a scenario. Does Wenger need another striker? Do we rely on the trio of Giroud, Sanogo and Campbell?

3. 3 Points in the bag.

Last season started with zero points at the Emirates which generated panic like a gram of Uranium generates nuclear energy. Wenger steadied the ship and got a good result last season. This season started with Hangeland’s header but the gunners responded with two goals in two stoppage times. Anything less than 3 points would have started a fear like the Ebola virus fear especially seeing that Manchester United have lost at home and Mourinho has started his moanings. 3 points is paramount and we can now move to the  next game: Besiktas. We can play better.

4. Can we define Arsenal as Ramsey?

What is Arsenal? This question can be asked in junior school and if anybody answers ” Arsenal is Aaron Ramsey”, the lad will not be far from the answer. In the last 14 or more months, Aaron Ramsey has been the brightest star at Ashburton Grove. The Welshman has popped up with great goals throughout last season and was immeasurable missed when he has injured just like the Tilapia will miss the rivers of Africa. Ramsey, trolled some seasons, is now the first person on everyone’s list to start and even finish an Arsenal game. He is carving a niche for scoring very important goal for Arsene Wenger’s Army. The gunners will hope to keep him fit to mount a better challenge this season. Behold, the Welsh Jesus.

5. Newbies, Perfect fit.

The trio of Chambers, Debuchy and Sanchez made their premier league debut for Arsenal and they lived up to expectation. Chambers was like a boss making the right tackle and influencing play. He got a yellow but will learn a lot from Metersacker as regards leadership from the rear and other defensive duties. But Chambers is going places. Is he forming a partnership with Kos the boss or will he be pushed up front to sit a defensive midfielder? His maturity was awesome especially knowing he is age.

Debuchy was solid as well and had a hand in the winning goal. I heard Sagna was bought for Capital One cup. A good bargain from the prof. Sanchez hoofed and poof-ed hoping to get his name on the score sheet but could only get an assist as his freekick was turned in by Kos the boss. Sanchez strength and pace is key but he must learn adapt to the premier league, understand his partners and start putting the fear of God in opposition defenders.

I am very happy with his attitude because he kept on fighting for 90 minutes, even if he is not completely ready physically. Tactically he needs to improve his understanding with his partners but he looked lively and dangerous until the end. I’m happy with his overall attitude and performance. – Wenger on Sanchez.

So, one hurdle has been surpassed. The gunners have travelled to Turkey to face Besiktas.

Enjoy

follow on twitter @soccergunz

What is it for Arsenal This Season?

The 2013/2014 European season seems like yesterday, despite the world cup in Brazil where Germany came out victorious. The new season begins on Saturday with teams drawing up their plans, setting goals and making drastic changes or adding finishing touches to a model that worked near-perfect last season.

Arsenal began their season last Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Manchester City, winning their first trophy of the season, their 13th Community Shield, 85 days after they had lifted the 2014 FA Cup, clearing out the cobwebs in the Emirates trophy cabinet.

So what can the fans expect from their darling Arsenal? Trophies? How many?

wpid-gun__1400359464_celebrations.jpg

Capital One Cup

As before, Arsene Wenger will always feature a weaker team in the Capital One Cup until maybe the later stages of the competition. Probably the semi-finals.  The league cup will be platform for the young guns likes of Bellerin, Campbell, Coquelin, Akpom and the more experience ones that are having a hard time breaking into the first team. Those Tuesday and Wednesday nights will be cold and exciting. Will we have another 7-5 victory like that epic Reading game.

Arsene Wenger has never won this trophy. It wouldn’t be bad if he adds it to his list of trophies won. Yes, he takes it less serious but a trophy is a silverware. Hope to see Campbell and Sanogo tormenting various opposition in this competition.

FA Cup

As defending champions, The Arsenal will face the FA Cup with a clip on their shoulders. Last season, they enjoyed the luxury of playing all of their FA Cup games in London. The probability of that happening this season is close to zero. Will the gunners rely on Ospina’s heroics to save them from elimination just like Fabianski kept the gunners from losing in the semi finals.

Wenger will expected to have a mixed team for this tournament for the early stages. The severity of the season later on will determine how serious the gunners will take this tournament. I really hope that the Gunners dont come to a point where they have only the FA Cup to fight for. The February wind must be curtailed. Can we get the FA Cup back to back? yes, with just 7 games played.

English Premier League

The last time Arsenal won the Premier League was in 2004. 10 years has gone by with Manchester United, Chelsea and City grabbing their share of the top spot with the gunners clinging on to their “4th Spot Trophy”. Wenger has kept the team competitive but it is high time that the Gunners fight to the end, winning the Premier League.

Ramsey’s injury had a great impact on Arsenal’s campaign last season. His absence was felt, so was Theo Walcott’s pace and even Metersacker’s flu. The Team needs to be fit enough to match up against Chelsea and their likes.

I have revenge on my mind after Arsenal were mercilessly beaten by Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. I would love the gunners to pay them back in their own coin. Will Wenger finally get a victory over Jose Mourinho?  I seriously hope so, even if it is half-zero.

UEFA Champions League

The money spinning Champions League begins early for te gunners with the playoff against Besiktas. The gunners must overcome the Turks and come tops in the group to have a better chance of progressing in the Champions League. The Champions league final loss to Barcelona still lingers as a near-miss. A semi final berth will boost the confidence of the team. Can they be the black horses?

So, what does these all hold for Arsene Wenger and his team. The trophies are back and it time to be gluttonous. I see the gunners getting a minimum of 2 trophies this season. Which of these four will it be?

We now have Sanchez, Debuchy, Ospina and Chambers. Will Wenger get a center back and/or a defensive midfielder? Both will do but let us wait till September 1st.

My Predictions: Capital One Cup Winners, FA Cup semi finalist, Premier League Winner, Champions League Semi finalst.

Come on you gunners.

Behold Arsenal’s 2014 Community Shield…

Every new season begins in English top football with an opportunity for one of the FA Cup winners or League winners to add a trophy to their cabinet within 90 minutes or 120 minutes of football. That Opportunity is tagged “The Community Shield”. FA Cup Champions Arsenal had the task of facing the Premier League winners, Manchester City at the Wembley Stadium, a week before the Premier League begins.

Without the German trio of Ozil, Podolski and Metersacker, Arsenal beat Manchester City 3-0 to lift the 2014 FA Community shield. Goals from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey in the 22nd and 43rd minutes respectively gave the Gunners a 2-0 lead going into the half-time break. Sanogo, fresh from his 4 goal exploit in the Emirates Cup, started ahead of Giroud. The young French was a handful for the Citizens and had a hand in both goals.

Arteta trophy lift

Arsene made some weird changes in the second half, bringing in Monreal for Koscienly, Giroud for Sanogo and Chamberlain for Sanchez. The change seemed to invite a lot of pressure from the blue half of Manchester but the defense held on. The best goal of the game was saved for the last, after Giroud collected a pass from country man Debuchy, held off his marker and sent a 25 yard curler beyond the City Goalie.

Thomas Rosicky, Flamini and Campbell had a piece of the game that saw Manchester outplayed properly. Seeing the Arsenal fans doing the Pozan was great. Watching the game with a host of other gooners was awesome (Enigma, DaViruz, OGB, John, Musty, Wilson, DaVic et Ure, Martyn, Simon et al).

3-0 and the gunners have now added another trophy to their cabinet with the last just 85 days ago. Some may argue that the Community shield is not a trophy but deep down they know better. Three goals and a clean sheet…..What else can you ask for? Ask For More….

Vermaelen Joins Barcelona

Before the Community Shield, Arsenal’s captain Vermaelen had to join Barcelona after seeing his chances limited in the Arsenal backline. The Belgium racked up 150 appearances scoring 15 goals. Do you still remember his debut goal against Everton? Unfortunately for him, Koscienly became a beast and Vermaelen had to get a certified Seat belt on Arsenal’s bench. TV5 left without any fuss, without any little boy telling him some cock and bull story. He left without any emotional drama or swipe at the hands that feed him. The reactions from the fans have been positive and we wish him well at Nou Camp.

Arteta Gets The Band

With Vermaelen joining Barcelona with his new number 23 jersey (what happened to Puyol’s 5), Arteta has been named Captain of Arsenal. Calm, cool and coordinated, Arteta is a team player and has held the backroom with his coordination. An intelligent player bought from Everton, Arteta is getting to the end of his career but he has given a lot to the gunners and surely does deserve to wear the captain handband.

Abou Diaby Returns Back

Abou Diaby seems to be cursed with injuries. The midfielder picked up a hip injury before the Community shield. Hope Wenger won’t renew his contract? it will be too fishy. Disappointing career for Abou.

UEFA Champions League Playoff

The gunners have been drawn to face Besiktas in the UCL palyoff before the group stage. The first leg will be in Turkey on the August 19 before a return leg a week later at the Emirates.

So the curtain is raised, the stage is set, let the season begin. Confidence is boosted, bring on Palace. Come on You Gunners.

Enjoy.

Arsenal lose to Monaco as Valencia win Emirates Cup 2014

Arsenal needed a draw to win the Emirates Cup for the 1st time since 2010 but they lost 1-0 to Monaco. The result meant that Valencia who had come from a goal down to defeat Benfica 3-1 will go home with the 2014 Emirates Cup.

After the Sanago show yesterday, Wenger opted to feature Giroud flanked by Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla. Debuchy made his debut besides Chambers and Koscienly. Monreal returned to the left with the trio of Arteta, Wilshere and Ramsey to operate from the middle.

Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring against Arsenal

Before half-time, the gunners were down to Falcao’s header from a freekick. the game remained so till the end of 90 minutes but the gunners had the opportunity to equalize from the spot but Martin Atkinson had other thoughts. Chuba Akpom was through on goal, thanks to a decisive pass from Zelalem. The young striker was tripped in the box but the referee gave a free kick instead.

Arsenal finished the Emirates Cup with 8 points, second behind Valencia with 9 points. Monaco came third with 7 points while Benfica would travel to Portugal with 2 loses and 2 points from 2 goals scored.

Goonerdaily have rated the gunners performance and i truly hope this preseason has prepared the boys for the real season ahead. The season begins in Wembley on Sunday against Manchester City in the Community Shield. It will be an opportunity to win something before the Premier League begins a week later.

It is the end of Arsenal’s preseason. It is time for business. See you in Wembley.

Enjoy

Sanogo’s Quadruple, Campbell Debut Goal, Arsenal 5-1 Benfica

In April 2009, Andrei Arshavin scored 4 goals against Liverpool at Anfield, that was the last time a gunner scored 4 goals.

Yaya Sanogo rose from the shambles of his missed goals and goal-less-ness of last season to grab 4 goals in 48minutes as Arsenal won their 1st Emirates Cup game of 2014.

The Emirates Cup began with Monaco and Valencia sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw. The goals were to continue at the stadium with Arsenal on fire.

Martinez started in goal with Monreal and Chambers as center backs flanged by Bellerin andGibbs. Flamini, Campbell, Ramsey, Rosicky, Ox and Sanogo completed the starting lineup.

Sanogo opened the scoring midway through the first half with a neat finish from close range after Ramsey had outrun two Benfica defenders. Joel Campbell extended the lead with his first goal in Arsenal colours. A wonderful volley after good work on the flank between Sanogo and Bellerin.

image

But Sanogo was yet finished. The striker scored his 2nd and 3rd goal in quick succesion (40th and 45th minute) as the gunners went 4-0 up.

3 minutes after the half-time interval, Sanogo grabbed his 4th and Arsenal’s 5th converting Ramsey’s rebounded shot.

Nico Gaitan pulled one back for the Portuguese champions just after the hour mark, but nothing could take the gloss off Sanogo’s – and Arsenal’s – day.

Alexis Sanchez did get his chance to put on the Arsenal jersey in the 2nd half to a sounding reception at the Emirates. You will have to wonder how the Arsenal frontline will be when the season begins proper.

It was a great game for Sanogo and he will never forget this day. Chambers was solid in defence on his debut so was Joel Campbell. Wenger has said he is not available for sale or loan. Everyone loves to score on his debut.

As for Bellerin, Debuchy will need to be mindful of him. Little wonder Jenkinson had to go on loan to Westham. Who will man the right back? Debuchy, Bellerin or Chambers? It is Wenger’s ache to manage the squad

Arsenal have 8pts and lead the Emirates cup but Sanogo owns the day.

Yes, it is pre-season but enjoy the Victory.

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