Not The Weekend Arsenal Prepared For

Jack Wilshere was voted Man of the match for the fourth consecutive time for the Three Lions in their 3-1 win over Scotland. Wilshere gave a superb assist to Chamberlain for a goal with Wayne Rooney grabbing a brace. The talk in town was how Wilshere will carry over this form from the national team to the club. Wenger must have grinned like a little girl on her first date seeing the British tabloid praising Wilshere and hyping the percentage of Gunners in the Three Lions team.

The Red Devils arrived North London with no away win of the season with a depleted defence and it seems as if Arsenal will finally grab a goal/win over the red half of Manchester since 2011. The odds were mathematically high for the gunners to grab all three points but some pundits and analysts awarded the victory to Manchester United without even kicking the ball. Why? Mental strength? Over time the gunners have been consistent in disappointing against the Top 4 and even Top 6 teams in the Premier League. Defeating either of Chelsea and Manchester City seems like Buhari’s quest to be an elected president of Nigeria. Unfortunately, the pundits were proved right.

Louis Van Gaal ransacked the Old Trafford Library and got the great book written by the legendary Alex Ferguson: HOW TO BEAT ARSENAL FOR DUMMIES. LVG spent the two weeks of international break studying intensively. He went further to review Moyes’ Arsenal solutions, burning various night candles, assisted by Giggs. What was Wenger doing? Resetting the same question just like before. He renumbered the questions but the urstuff was same.

Arsenal started like a house on fire, showing hopes of finishing off Manchester United as soon as they can. They couldn’t beat Moyes’ United that had numerous bonanzas in the previous season. LVG has started a promo this season but Arsenal just know how to cash in on these promos and bonanzas. An own goal from Gibbs just brought the bitter taste of how Arsenal always fare against big teams. Rooney scored from United’s first shot on target to grab United’s second and it was over.

The gunners will continue to bite themselves for wasting the chances they had in the first half and even before the opening goal of the game. Wilshere will have a long puff of his Cigar for a while pondering what might have been if he passed the ball to Sanchez or have really placed De Gea to get the opener. Has he learnt how to shove like Wenger to show he is being frustrated? Cazorla may need to get to some metaphysical land to question the gods of football about his scoring boots. Welbeck would watch the game again and see that his quest for revenge over LVG cost him an assist if he had a cool head. All these will happen if they are passionate enough to know the meaning of the game.
Olivier Giroud returned and De Gea immediately had to save from his header. Arsenal made De Gea look great by shooting straight at him. The only shot that De Gea had to dive for resulted in a goal. Has the gunners forgotten how to score? How long can we continue to endure this woeful performance? This is the worst start in 32 years for Arsenal. The Gunners played well but were exposed at the back.

This wasn’t the weekend every gooner wanted. It is even more excruciating for a Nigerian gooner following Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the AFCON 2015.

I had to look beyond football to get a sporting happiness for the weekend. Roger Federer finally had the Davis Cup added to his trophies. Switzerland defeated France 3-1 to win the Davis Cup. Louis Hamilton also won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to emerge Formula One Champion for 2014. Nico Rosberg could only finish 14th for the day.

Other football related events added a smile to my face. Enyimba FC of Aba lifted the 69th edition of the Nigerian Federation Cup after defeating Dolphins of Port Harcourt 2-0. They have now won the Federation Cup four times following this back to back win. The other was seeing Bendtner score a goal for Wolfsburg.

That was my weekend for me. I hope the new week will be better. But the thought of this Arsenal facing Dortmund on Wednesday is worrisome. Fingers crossed.

Enjoy.

The Five: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United

Olivier Giroud returned from injury, came in as sub but his 94th minute goal couldn’t save Arsenal as they lost 2-1 to the Red Devils. A Keiran Gibbs own goal and Rooney’s 11th goal against Arsenal had given Manchester United a 2-0 lead.

Match report Wenger’s CommentPlayer Rating via ESPN

1. Great Work, No Result.
Arsenal started the game like a house on fire, tearing down United’s depleted defence. Quick sleek passing garnished with pace left LVG’s Devils dazzled. But all these fancy works and foreplay didn’t result in the ball crossing the line for an Arsenal goal. Arsenal looked like a very hard working student that solved in details all his questions, provided the answers but submitted the question paper instead of the answer scripts.

2. De Gea De-fference.
Arsenal eased through United’s backline but made life so easy for De Gea, the goalie between the post. Arsenal made De Gea look so good by shooting at him. The goalie made no diving save but made himself big enough to prevent Wilshere, Welbeck and co from registering a goal. He must curse his luck for failing to keep a clean sheet with Giroud’s superb goal.

3. Pride Proves Puffs
I am still pondering as to why Wilshere failed to pass the ball to Sanchez for his first miss of the game. Was he looking to prove a point or he took an excess dose of the “English Pride”? Four consecutive MotM for the Three Lions and you will expect him to cap it up with Arsenal especially after his assists were questioned. You could see the pride translated to frustration as he picked up a fight with Fellaini.

Up the field, Danny wanted to prove LVG wrong. He showed alot of promise but failed to grab a goal. He was more of a threat than RVP but he desire to prove LVG wrong may have caused Arsenal a goal. He just wanted to score but had to watch as Giroud grabbed a late goal.

4. Return Relief
Mikel Arteta returned to captain the gunners and he put a much better display than his deputy Flamini. Of two evils, choose the lesser. Arteta may be old but he reads the game well. He provided the assist to fellow returnee Giroud to start the failed comeback.

Olivier Giroud came in for the ineffective Aaron Ramsey and ended the game with a great goal and a yellow card to his name. His return will erase Sanogo from the bench and most likely send Welbeck there.

5. The Big4 Mentality
I can’t remember the last time Arsenal defeated any of the “traditional” big four or their big six derivatives. Is it now cast in stone that we cannot beat Manchester united even in their poorest state? Last season,  we didn’t even grab a goal. How will the players be relieved from this mediocrity?

Other worthy mentions include the injury worries, no goal Sanchez, blank RVP, Di Maria’s miss and many more.

Take Heart and Enjoy.

My Summary of the November Break: Great For Arsenal, Disappointing For Nigeria.

The long international break for November started on a good note for me but ended in mixed feelings for an average Nigerian gooner. I had blogged of my hopes for the international break and will take a look at the dreams that came to pass and others that vanished in the black hole.

My Hopes vs The Reality
1. Nigeria beat Congo and South Africa to qualifer for Equatorial Guinea 2015. Yes, Morocco couldn’t host the January event but will host the FIFA World Club Cup in December. Post for another day. The Eagles have an uphill task. Will Keshi, back from mini-sack, get the Eagles 6pts from 2 games?
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Reality: Nigeria did beat Congo in Point Noire but failed to beat South Africa in Uyo thus failing to be in Equatorial Guinea 2015. Sone Aluko scored a brace to even save Nigeria from another home defeat.

2. England get victories in the Euro qualifier with the Arsenal boys making the headlines after scoring most or all of the goals. One for Walcott, Welbeck, Wilshere, Chamberlain, Gibbs and Chambers.
image

Reality: Welbeck grabbed a brace as England defeated Slovenia 3-1. Chamberlain also got his name on the scoresheet from Wilshere’s assist as the Three Lions won at Celtic Park over Scotland. Gibbs played all 180 minutes and Wilshere grabbed two MOTM.

3. Rosicky and Podolski prove Arsene Wenger wrong by being the Cremè de la cremè of their respective national sides. Aha.
Reality: They both started for their countries with Podolski grabbing an assist in Germany 4-0 victory over Gibraltar.

4. Iceland and Poland remain top of their groups with clean sheets for Szczesny. How i love Szc.
Reality: Szczesny got his clean sheet as the Poles defeated Georgia 4-0 to remain top of the group. Iceland lost to Czech losing top spot to Rosicky and his gang

5. Bendtner gets a hattrick and prove on the pitch how his time was wasted last season. Worldbest indeed. I love this guy. Seriously.
image

Reality: He got a brace as Denmark won away at Serbia 3-1. There can only be one lord Bendtner.

6. Enyimba to trounce Kano Pillars despite losing the league title to the Northern side. The people’s elephant should also get the Nigerian FA cup.
Reality: Enyimba 3-1 Kano Pillars.

7. Roger Federer to teach Andy Murray a lesson. Ooh, he has done that. Fed to win the Tour Finals in London.
Reality: Federer advanced to the final after beating countryman Wawrinka but hurt his back to gift Djokovic the tile.

8. Arsene Wenger to get ready for Manchester United. – Awaiting Reality.

Other highlights of the break includes Faroe Islands’ 1-0 victory in Greece, Sanchez’s goals, Gibraltar’s troll over Brazil;

“Jordan Pérez [Gibraltar goalkeeper].
“We need to concede less than 7 against Germany. Then we can say we are better than Brazil.””

FIFA’s politics and corruption, Cape Verde’s AFCON 2015 qualification and Enigi’s BBM return.

Click here for full details of how the gunners performed in this break.

Enjoy and get ready for the Red Devils

My Hopes For The November International Break

My international break, like many gooners in the milky way started on a sour note with that defeat to Swansea in Wales. Two weeks of no Arsenal football has to be replaced by any other action not on the green pitch as far as the gunners are concerned.

Six Gunners joined the Three Lions camp to continue their quest to the forthcoming Euros. Podolski and Rosicky breathe the fresh air off the benches of Emirates, hoping to prove Wenger wrong. I wonder what they need to do to get games.

The injury update started good for Arsenal with Olivier Giroud already training with the team. Another dimension to the attack. At least, it will save me from seeing Sanogo warming up. Ozil, fresh from the court will be out much longer than expected. Abou Diaby signed a new 3 months contract with his club, Injury FC. I wonder how his autobiography will be.

My Hopes:
1. Nigeria beat Congo and South Africa to qualifer for Equatorial Guinea 2015. Yes, Morocco couldn’t host the January event but will host the FIFA World Club Cup in December. Post for another day. The Eagles have an uphill task. Will Keshi, back from mini-sack, get the Eagles 6pts from 2 games?

2. England get victories in the Euro qualifier with the Arsenal boys making the headlines after scoring most or all of the goals. One for Walcott, Welbeck, Wilshere, Chamberlain, Gibbs and Chambers.

3. Rosicky and Podolski prove Arsene Wenger wrong by being the Cremè de la cremè of their respective national sides. Aha.

4. Iceland and Poland remain top of their groups with clean sheets for Szczesny. How i love Szc.

5. Bendtner gets a hattrick and prove on the pitch how his time was wasted last season. Worldbest indeed. I love this guy. Seriously.

6. Enyimba to trounce Kano Pillars despite losing the league title to the Northern side. The people’s elephant should also get the Nigerian FA cup.

7. Roger Federer to teach Andy Murray a lesson. Ooh, he has done that. Fed to win the Tour Finals in London.

8. Arsene Wenger to get ready for Manchester United.

Shikena. You can add more.
Enjoy your break.

The Five: Swansea 2-1 Arsenal

image

Arsenal continued to dig an endless pit of happiness in the hearts of their fans as they slipped in 3 mimutes to lose in Wales by 2-1. Alexis Sanchez seem to have given the gunners all three points but a free kick from Sigurdsson and Gomis header sealed 3pts for the swans.
Match report. Wenger’s Comment

1. Pains of failing to buy.
The summer shopping spree ended with Wenger failing to get a center back despite allowing Vermaelen and Miquel go. That decision has consistently hurt Arsenal conceding school boy erroneous goals and allowing opposition strikers opportunity to grab a goal with their heads. When Gomis out jumped Monreal, i wasn’t surprised. I felt for Monreal as Wenger’s makeshift defence continue to prove everyone right except Wenger. Expect more of this till January.

2. Looking for those saves.
Sometimes a goalie is worth 3 points. Szczesny has made some great saves in his career but it looks like ages since we all single the pole out for saving Arsenal. Yes, he may extremely exposed buy a makeshift funny pair of center backs but you could see that he may have done better. The goalie is the last line of defence and we hope to see some top of the drawer saves soonest.

3. Chambers Charred
Montero took Chambers CV and throw it to the swine as he made mincemeat of the right back. The young English lad had been the talk of the town since his arrival although showing some degree of inexperience. The lad can cross for Europe and Africa but he was consistently found wanting with pace.

image

90 minutes torment

Chambers should have done better to prevent the cross that gave Swansea the winner. How Wenger and his team mates continued to allow him suffer throughout the game is to be decided on mount Olympus. His lack of pace will be his achilles heel. We have young Bellerin blessed with pace and Sir Jenks on loan to Westham.

4. Reactive or Preventive Substitution
Wilshere and Walcott came on for Flamini and Ramsey after Gomis had scored the winner. This subs looked like a reaction to being down in the space of 3 minutes. If the subs came in before the equalizer, would Arsenal had secured the win? The gunners were on the ascendency with the rain favouring their play. The subs have their chances to draw Arsenal level but they fluffed their chances, Sanogo inclusive. Is he a striker? What of Podolski and Campbell?

5. Sanchez Let Down Again
A quick counter involving Cazorla, Chamberlain and Welbeck resulted in Arsenal’s opener with Sanchez slotting in behind Fabianski. In recent times, there is always a surety that the Chilean will make impact and he always does. But it is sad that the defence always let him down. All his hard work was rubbished by the conceded goals. As he walked down the tunnel shaking his head, so many thoughts will cloud his mind. Poor Sanchez.

“@ZineAFC: When Alexis dies the Arsenal defense should lower him into his grave so they can let him down one last time”

Arsenal has been disappointing. Wenger looks bare. 12pts behind Chelsea, the frenchman has conceded defeat. How long shall we wait for The Arsenal. With the highest gatefee in the milky way, the fans have been fed with poor results. Will the international break bring good news?
I am tired of seeing headlines like “Per – we must be serious for 90 minutes”, “Szczesny – 5 minutes cost us the game” on arsenal.com. The players need to justify the badge on their chest and stop talking trash.

Live on gooners.

A Trip To Swansea, A Look At Yesterday

Arsenal threw away a 3-0 lead against Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions league to gift Borussia Dortmund full rights to finish top of the group. Arsenal’s happy hour was marred in the last 30mins as they invoked the spirits that befell the infamous 4-4 draw at St James Park.

The gunners will look to pick themselves up as they travel to Wales to face Swansea. Unbeaten in the last 5 games against the swans but must be mindful of Sigurdsson who may replace Michu who was a torn to Arsenal’s flesh. Fabianski will face Arsenal in a game of two Poles.

Alexis Sanchez is the man of the month with every award for the month of October in his pocket. The Chilean will look to continue his form and maybe save the gunners for the umpteenth time. The former Barcelona forward has been impressive for the gunners topping the goal scoring chart. He has created more chance, shot on target than any other gunner after 10 premier league games. Will he turn up in Swansea? FPL on my mind.

image

I don’t expect a clean sheet with a slow Metersacker partnered with a left back Monreal. Arteta’s hamstring makes the equation more glaring with Flamini his  only deputy. Chambers and Gibbs have been doing well. Cazorla’s shooting tricks may have faded but Wenger may introduce the pace of Walcott.

Predicted Line-up: Szczesny, Metersacker,  Monreal, Chambers, Gibbs, Flamini, Cazorla, Ramsey, Chamberlain, Sanchez and Welbeck.
Scores: 2-1 Arsenal win. Welbeck and Sanchez to score.

Irrespective of the magnitude of the scores, the 3 points is very important especially seeing the way Chelsea are faring at the top of the table.

ICYMI: Nigeria launched a new stadium, the Akwa Ibom International Stadium with a friendly match. The match ended 1-0 in favour of Nigeria over Ghana.

Enjoy your weekend.

2014 Glo CAF Awards Nominees

The Confederation of African Football on Thursday in Cairo, Egypt announced the nominees for the 2014 African Player of the Year and the 2014 African Player of the Year (Based in Africa) in the Glo-Caf Awards.

25 players were nominated for the African Player of the Year, while 20 players made the list for the Player of the Year (Based in Africa) category. CAF took into consideration the performance of the nominees for their national teams and clubs from January to November, this year.

African Player of the Year Nominees:
Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Nigeria)
Vincent Enyeama (Lille, Nigeria)
Asamoah Gyan (Al-Ain, Ghana)
Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus, Ghana)
Dame N’doye (Lokomotiv Moscow, Senegal)
Sadio Mané (Southampton, Senegal)
Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham, Togo)
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Schalke 04, Cameroun)
Stephane Mbia (Sevilla, Cameroun)
Vincent Aboubakar (Porto, Cameroun)
Yao Kouassi Gervais ‘Gervinho’ (AS Roma, Cote d’Ivoire)
Wilfred Bony (Swansea, Cote d’Ivoire)
Yaya Toure (Manchester City, Cote d’Ivoire)
Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (CS Sfaxien, Tunisia)
Ferdjani Sassi (CS Sfaxien, Tunisia)
Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon, Algeria)
Raïs M’Bolhi (Philadelphia Union, Algeria)
Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia, Algeria) Yacine Brahimi (Porto, Algeria)
Mehdi Benatia (Bayern Munich, Morocco)
Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace, DR Congo)
Thulani Serero (Ajax, South Africa)
Seydou Keita (AS Roma, Mali)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund, Gabon)
Mohamed El Neny (Basel, Egypt).

African Player of the Year (Based in Africa) Nominees:
Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers, Nigeria)
Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs, SA)
Bongani Ndulula (Amazulu, SA)
late Senso Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates, SA)
Amr Gamal (Al Ahly, Egypt)
Akram Djahnit (ES Setif, Algeria)
El Hedi Belamieri (ES Setif, Algeria)
Fakhereddine Ben Youssef (CS Sfaxien, Tunisia )
Ferdjani Sassi (CS Sfaxien, Tunisia)
Abdelrahman Fetori (Ahly Benghazi, Libya)
Firmin Mubel Ndombe (As Vita, DR Congo)
Jean Kasusula (TP Mazembe, DR Congo)
Kader Bidimbou (AC Leopards, DR Congo)
Lema Mabidi (As Vita, DR Congo)
Geoffrey Massa (Pretoria University, Uganda)
Mudathir Al Taieb (Al Hilal, Sudan)
Roger Assalé (Sewe Sport, Cote d’Ivoire)
Solomon Asante (TP Mazembe, Ghana)
Souleymane Moussa (Coton Sport, Cameroun )
Yunus Sentamu (AS Vita, Uganda).

The winners of the two categories will be decided by votes from the Head Coaches and Technical Directors of the National Associations affiliated to CAF.
The Glo- CAF Awards Gala will take place on January 8, 2015 in Lagos, Nigeria.

Ivorian Yaya Toure was crowned African Player of the Year for the past three years, whilst Mohamed Aboutreika of Egypt was named African Player of the Year (Based in Africa) last year.

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