Looking Back at Patrick Vieira’s Career at Arsenal: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Patrick Vieira

Arsenal’s official website recently reported that ex-Gunner great, Patrick Vieira, is among an elite set of footballers that is set to be inducted into National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame due to his outstanding contributions to the beautiful game. The former Gunners captain joins the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Alan Ball and Cliff Bastin on the honour roll.

As expected, the Frenchman has expressed his delight at the decision to induct him into the Hall of Fame,

“I am extremely honoured and proud that I have been selected to join the National Football Museum Hall of Fame. It is a huge privilege to be inducted and join my former team-mates Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Tony Adams on the illustrious list.”

Being recognized for his outstanding contributions to the English game is an amazing feat and in his honor, Gooner Daily has decided to relive those moments that endeared Patrick Vieira to the hearts of Arsenal fans all over the globe.

Here’s an overview of the talismanic tenacious midfielder’s career revealing the good times, the bad times and certainly the ugly times.

The Good…

August 14, 1996 – Patrick Vieira Signs for Arsenal for £3.5 million from AC Milan

After making a name for himself in Cannes, Vieira signed for AC Milan in 1996 but he saw himself rotting in the Reserves and he managed to make just two Serie A appearances for the Italian giants.

Vieira in AC Milan. He endured a disappointing campaign in San Siro

He expressed his desire to leave the club and he was odds on to make a move to AFC Ajax Amsterdam but personal terms were not reached, so he opted to join Arsenal a couple of days later, alongside fellow Frenchman, Remi Garde, in a £3.5 million move. Vieira later revealed he signed for Arsenal because his compatriot Arsène Wenger was going to be the club’s next manager,

“I am delighted to be joining Arsenal at the same time as Mr Wenger becomes their coach. Being able to speak French to him will make life a lot easier for me.”

His Dominant Performances in Midfield…

Alongside fellow Frenchman, Emmanuel Petit, Vieira forged a formidable partnership that helped the Gunners in their bid to win trophies. Arsenal can attribute some of its successes in the double winning campaigns to the hardwork of its midfield engine room, even though the strikers played their roles.

Following Petit’s departure, Vieira played with several partners but his combination with Gilberto Silva in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield with a combo made somewhere in Orion’s Belt.

What I’ll give to have these guys again

As a player, Vieira has many good technical attributes which include a good first touch, wonderful heading ability, good passing range, excellent tackling abilities, an aggressive character and his anticipation skills are second to none. He’s also a very composed player, his decision making is top-notch, he knows how to position himself well and he’s a force to be reckoned with in the air.

Vieira’s frame and towering spirit gave him a mighty presence in midfield. His technique was unrivaled and he was so good at marking, his opponents checked for his presence even after the game was over.

Rising Through the Ranks…

Vieira was a heavily sought-after player with the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid fighting hard for his signature but he pledged his allegiance to Arsenal times without number. In the summer of 2001, the club decided to elevate the Frenchman to the role of vice-captain to ensure he would succeed Tony Adams as captain. Success finally came for Vieira in the 2001–02 season; Arsenal regained the league from Manchester United and beat Chelsea in the 2002 FA Cup Final to complete a second double.

After so many years of undying service, Adams finally retired at the end of the 2001/02 campaign and the mantle of leading the club was passed on to Vieira, a role has relished for the best part of five seasons.

The Goals, All 34 of Them…

As a holding midfielder, Vieira’s business was at the center of the pitch but there were those odd moments he drifted forward to devastating effect, from his first ever goal against Derby County on December 8, 1996 till his final kick of the ball that won Arsenal the 2005 FA Cup.

The decisive goal in the 2005 FA Cup final

 

The Trophies, And He Won a Whole Lot…

In his time under Wenger, Vieira lifted the Community Shield four times (1998, 1999, 2002 and 2004), the FA Cup four times (1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005) and the Premier League three times (1998, 2002 and 2004).

The Bad and Ugly…

His Disciplinary Records…

In a game against Coventry City on 16 January 1998, Vieira received his first red card for using “foul and abusive language” at referee, Stephen Lodge.Vieira was again dismissed a month later, this time in a Football League Cup semi-final against Chelsea. In the 1999/00 season, in a game against West Ham United, Vieira was sent off for a second booking, after fouling striker Paolo Di Canio. He crowned up his horrifying moment by spitting  at Neil Ruddock, who walked into him and was dragged off the pitch by officials. Vieira was subsequently charged, banned for six matches and fined a record £45,000 by The FA.

As the seasons progressed, Vieira’s disciplinary problems continued as he was sent off on the opening day against Sunderland and for the second time in 72 hours at home to Liverpool.

When the Gunners played against Manchester United in September 2003, Vieira was brandished a red card and was banned for one match. The FA later imposed a fine of £20,000 “for improper conduct in failing to leave the field of play following his sending-off”. There was no love lost and nobody took prisoners when Arsenal faced Manchester United. There was also the prospect of watching Vieira and Roy Keane busting up with each other.

Ah! The good ol’ days

According to Thomas Swan of Hub Pages, Vieira has the highest amount of red cards (along with Everton’s Duncan Ferguson) in the Premier League, making him and the Evertonian the roughest players to grace the English game. While Vieira averaged one red card every 38 games, Ferguson bettered that record with a red card every 34 games.

Even a volatile player like Vinnie Jones of the Crazy Gang amassed six red cards while playing for Wimbledon and he has brought that attitude to the silver screen as he usually acts like an antagonist in most of his movies. Luckily for Vieira, Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole has seven red cards to his name and he’s odds on to take the nasty record away from the Frenchman in the not too distant future.

Racial Abuse…

After a group stage match against Lazio in October 2000, Vieira claimed he was the target of racial abuse from Siniša Mihajlović, to which UEFA subsequently launched an investigation into. Mihajlović later admitted he made reference to Vieira’s colour, but added that he was provoked. The player was then handed a two-match ban for “unsporting actions”.

Unfortunately, racism remains a scourge in the game and the sooner it gets eradicated, the better for everyone involved.

Conclusion

With a total of 406 appearances and 34 goals to his name, Vieira was regarded as a fiery character that gave his all to the team so his performances and influence on the pitch rubbed off on his teammates to strive to play better when the chips are down. He was a charismatic leader and was the kind of player that was never going to lay down and play dead for everyone.

Despite his poor disciplinary record, his teammates were always ready to go all the way for him because he protected them on the pitch like the true leader he was.

It was an honor watching Vieira for nine trophy-laden years.

It’s good to know that he would be inducted into the hall of fame soon.

Sayonara.

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Diaby Returns: Is There Still Hope for him at Arsenal?

 

Abou Diaby

After almost a year out, he’s back!

Truth be told, injuries have become part and parcel of the modern game.

The competitive nature of football has led to teams battling each other for the ultimate goal of gaining victory and like every battle, there are casualties. In a club as technically proficient like Arsenal, they are players that are always on the line of fire due to their style of play while there are others that are just unlucky.

Abou Diaby arrived from AJ Auxerre in the 2006 winter transfer window and his lanky stature made the media label him as the next Monsieur Vieira. He wore the No. 2 jersey last worn by the great Lee Dixon and he made 12 league appearances before suffering a horrific ankle fracture following a horrendous challenge from Sunderland’s Dan Smith.

He missed Arsenal’s Champions League final against Barcelona as well as the 2006 European Under-21 Championships with France U-21s. Diaby went through a series of surgeries to fix up the ankle and he was sidelined for an entire pregnancy period. After recuperating and rehabilitating from that career-threatening injury, Diaby notched up a handful of appearances in 2007 before suffering another injury in the tail end of the year with Mathieu Flamini while representing France.

A year after that, Diaby suffered a thigh injury despite scoring in Arsenal’s ill-fated Champions League quarterfinal exit in the hands of Liverpool in March 2008. The injury escalated to a critical level forcing Diaby to miss out on Euro 2008.

Between 2009 and 2012, Diaby suffered a hip injurycalf injuryknee ligament damageankle injury, another ankle surgery and a thigh strain. There was even a period in his career when he traveled to the Middle East and the United States in his bid to save his career but Diaby made a long-awaited comeback against Liverpool in Anfield last season only to leave the pitch after 26 minutes. Just when we taught that things couldn’t get any worse for Diaby, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament on his left knee and the club announced that he was going to be sidelined for eight to nine months

scar_diaby

See the scars on his knee

After a lengthy recuperation period, Diaby is back to full fitness and he even managed to get 45 minutes under his belt in the Arsenal U-21′s recent defeat against Chelsea U-21s. According to the match report on the official site, Diaby even had a chance to mark his return by a goal but the Chelsea goalie denied him his moment of glory.

Diaby has managed to amass 178 appearances for the club in nine seasons, which means that he averages just 19 games or so a season since he joined the club in January 2006. Diaby is undoubtedly a talented player but his injury woes has made him to become a liability at the club, rather than an asset. With a physique that is Patrick Vieira-esque in nature, the Frenchman combines his technical ability with good dribbling skills but he’s never around to showcase that talent.

Diaby’s cause wouldn’t be helped by the fact that the Gunners have so many options in midfield and with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere manning the box to box role with authority, it would even be difficult for Diaby to get a shot in the holding role, as monsieurs Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini currently man those positions. He even has the threat of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to contend with.

 

Diaby was the Man of the Match when Arsenal beat Liverpool in Anfield last season

Diaby is one of our best midfielders, but he gets injured so often and it has also been proven in the past that Wenger has a soft spot for him. Anytime he’s fit, he somehow finds his way into the first team at the expense of someone else. Take his last return for example, Wenger played Diaby almost instantly and that was around the time the WC qualifiers was heavy and he got used almost every game for 90 minutes. 

Diaby has had so many injury setbacks and we as fans can only hope that is injury woes are now fully behind him. However, his contract expires next summer and I really don’t see the club renewing his deal.

It’s good to have Abou Diaby back.

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on Moyes’ Dismissal and What the Future Holds for Wenger

As we all know, football can be a cruel and and unforgiving sport.

When Sir Alex Ferguson won the 2012/13 Premier League title, he must he felt within himself that he had gotten the very best from the players at his disposal before making his shocking announcement about his imminent retirement. He addressed everyone connected with the club to “get behind the new man” and when the time came, Everton’s stalwart, David Moyes, was announced as the manager to take the club forward.

While Moyes was still getting a hang of things at his new club, Sunderland parted ways, rather acrimoniously, with the volatile and charismatic Paolo di Canio, making him the first managerial dismissal of the season. After working hard to bring Crystal Palace up through the lottery of the Championship playoff final, Ian Holloway and the Eagles parted ways via mutual consent. December turned out to be a hot month for firing managers as Martin Jol, Steve Clarke, AVB and Malky Mackay received the axe.

AVB looking clueless as always during his time in England

When Michael Laudrup surprisingly lost his job in February, Fulham were at it again as Rene Meulensteen was sacked after just 13 games with his new team. Norwich finally terminated Chris Hughton’s employment after a run of fruitless results and many bookies believed that it was going to be the final sacking of the season, till the summer at least.

Little did we know that the hierarchy of Manchester United had something up their sleeves and inevitably, David Moyes, lost his job after 10 months in charge. The Red Devils are set to have their lowest points tally in Premier League history as well as not qualifying for the Champions League in some 18 years or so, and as expected, the naming ceremony has begun for his potential replacement.

News of Moyes sack was strangely followed with Manchester United fans celebrating wildly in various social networking platforms, even to the extent where a fan baked a cake in honor of his manager losing his job.

Former Red Devil, Gary Neville, has openly criticized the sacking of David Moyes and while I’m certainly no Man U fan, I feel that he should have been given more time to turn things around at the club. It’s true that his players struggled for form but axing him with three games to go wasn’t worth the trouble. At least, he’s walking away with £10 million.

As for his replacements, Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp has a £5m to £10m buy-out clause while Pep Guardiola’s release fee is close to £16m allegedly but reduces as the end of his contract approaches. Media favorite, Louis Van Gaal’s clause is allegedly £2m unless he is sacked after the World Cup. Wasting £10m in relieving the services of Moyes is no where as detrimental as the impact of not featuring in EUrope’s elite football competition next season, as it’s clearly obvious that Manchester United fans would brace themselves up for some Thursday night football.

Bringing it home to “more familiar surroundings”, Arsene Wenger’s 18-year stint with the club seems to be reaching its climax and no one knows the decision the manager is going to take this summer and while we fans are hoping for the best, we are also preparing for the worst.

Arsene Wenger could win the FA Cup and bow out like Sir Alex Ferguson, then probably recommend someone that he feels would be in the best position to the take the club forward. Many fans are also hoping for him to sign the new deal and spend this summer so that he can reap the fruits of his labor.

Many have bemoaned the lack of trophies, failure to sign quality players, rigid tactics and his stubbornness could be good enough reasons for the club to decide not to retain his services but the board still has the final say, and we all know that the Arsenal hierarchy remain supportive of the manager.

The loss of David Moyes is rather unfortunate, but that’s football.

These sort of stuff are part and parcel of the game.

Sayonara.

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Olivier Giroud: Reviewing the 20 Goals Scored by the Striker this Season

 

 

 

Leading the line!!

“I enjoy my stats because when you are a striker you think that we are looking for the stats and assists as well. I am OK with my stats but I know the team will need me again for the last [four] Premier League games. So I need to score again and again.” – Olivier Giroud

Down the years, Arsenal has always had its fair share of attacking talent that have wowed the fans, thus epitomizing the club’s attractive style of football. While the likes of Ted Drake and Cliff Bastin scored for fun in the days of old, modern day Arsenal fans were honored to watch Ian Wright decimate opposition defenses before the baton was passed to Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, two of the finest foreign acquisitions the club has ever made.

With the Henry era reaching its climax, Arsenal unleashed goalscoring machines like Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie to the fold and just when we thought that the club it had its predatory clinical finisher in the form of Eduardo da Silva, injury robbed him off his confidence and his career plunged downwards before Shakhtar Donetsk came around and offered him a way out.

With van Persie opting to join Manchester United, Arsene Wenger keep the faith with his new recruit from SC Montpellier Herault and in 91 appearances thus far, the French forward has smashed in 37 goals, with 20 of them coming this season. Despite his frailties and criticisms, scoring 20 goals in your second season at a top-level club like Arsenal is a good return from a center forward. With four games left, I don’t expect Giroud to reach the 30-goal mark but scoring 25 goals could be a realistic target for the French striker.

In a somewhat chronological order, Gooner Daily wants to relive those splendid moments from Giroud that proved that he’s still the club’s alpha-dog in attack.

AUGUST 2013

Goal No. One against Aston Villa at the Emirates

The home side went off to a flyer when a Rosicky through ball located an unmarked Ox that bore down on goal before picking his spot and locating the red-hot Olivier Giroud. As you would expect from a striker on form, the Frenchman’s one-timed shot eased past Brad Guzan to send the Emirates into raptures.

Goal No. Two against Fenerbahce in the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium

Arsenal drove a nail in Fenerbahce’s coffin when Kadlec fouled Walcott in the box. Giroud stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way with a well-taken spot kick. That turned out to be his last contribution as he was withdrawn for Lukas Podolski

Goal No. Three against Fulham at Craven Cottage

the breakthrough arrived when Olivier Giroud showed great improvisation as well as a cool head after blocking Aaron Ramsey’s shot to slot the ball past Stockdale in goal.

SEPTEMBER 2013

London boy: Olivier Giroud scores and celebrates the opening goal of the game at the Emirates

Goal No. Four against Tottenham at the Emirates

After some good work in midfield from Aaron Ramsey, the Welshman found Rosicky on the right and the Czech maestro wasted to time in sending Walcott through in behind the Tottenham rearguard. Walcott looked up and fashioned a chance for an onrushing Olivier Giroud whose finish was sheer class. An exquisite deft touch that was more than enough as it skipped past Lloris in goal.

Goal No. Five against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

Arsenal’s opening goal arrived in swift fashion as Kieran Gibbs dinked a ball into Ozil’s path. The German schemer saw an onrushing Olivier Giroud with those orbicular eyes of his and he cushioned a first time pass that was finished aplomb with a neat one-timed shot from Giroud.

OCTOBER 2013

Goal No. Six against Napoli at the Emirates

Arsenal doubled their money when Giroud latched unto a loose pass, teed up Ozil and continued his run into the box. The German schemer used his first touch to give himself some space, went to Napoli’s byline and squared the ball for Giroud. They rest they say, was history.

Goal No. Seven against Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates

Following a good Bacary Sagna cross (after a plethora of erratic crosses), Giroud showed his predatory instincts to capitalize on a defensive gaffe between Neven Subotic and Roman Weidenfeller to blast in a free clear-cut chance at goal that leveled the contest before halftime.

Goal No. Eight against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park

13/14: Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal - Olivier Giroud

Right on the death, Giroud instigated a counter attack with a neat flick to Ramsey that went on a run and waited for the right moment for the Frenchman to arrive at the box. With Giroud in sight, Ramsey gently cushioned the ball above a defender to the path of Giroud that nodded his effort in to put the game beyond doubt.

NOVEMBER 2013

Goals No. Nine and 10 against Southampton at the Emirates

The match opener arrived in a rather hilarious fashion as Clyne supplied a simple back pass to his goalkeeper and with Giroud closing down on Boruc he decided to invoke the spirits of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi to attempt a futile effort of dribbling Giroud. The Frenchman robbed the Pole and slammed the ball into an unguarded net.

Jose Fonte wanted to exchange jerseys with Mertesacker in the box leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Giroud took responsibility and sent the keeper the wrong way to make it two.

DECEMBER 2013

Goal No. 11 against Newcastle at St. James Park

29 12 2013 GifNumber 36 1 0 to the Arsenal: Olivier Giroud v Newcastle [GIF]

The match clincher arrived when Giroud latched onto Walcott’s perfectly-timed cross to head the ball home.

JANUARY 2014

Goal No. 12 against Aston Villa at Villa Park

While the Gunners were basking in the euphoria of getting the game’s opener, Wilshere robbed Delph off the ball and clipped a diagonal pass to Giroud. The Frenchman shoved the threat Lowton posed and fired a shot past Guzan to make it two goals in less than a minute for the Gunners.

Quick-fire: The Frenchman powered his strike home less than 60 seconds after Wilshere's opener

Goal No. 13 against Coventry City at the Emirates

Giroud latched on to Kieran Gibbs cut back to make it three while Cazorla fired in the icing on a well-baked cake late on.

Goal No. 14 against Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium

Lacked supply from his teammates in the first half but he helped his team defensively. He also scored a very improvised finish in a difficult situation.

FEBRUARY 2014

Goals No. 15 and 16 against Sunderland at the Emirates

Giroud lingered in the box when he attempted to pass back to his keeper and the Gunners striker clinically slid the ball past the exasperated Vito Mannone in goal.

Olivier Giroud celebrates his first goal of the afternoon for Arsenal against Sunderland

Santiago Vergini, deputising for the suspended Wes Brown, chose to send a tame back pass to Mannone.His return ball to Mannone, however, was woefully under hit, allowing the predatory Giroud to pounce and roll the ball beyond the goalkeeper.

MARCH 2014

Goals No. 17 and 18 against Everton at the Emirates

Giroud came off the bench to score a lovely brace that saw him fire one-timed shots into the net. His first arrived when he timed his run well to hit Sagna’s drilled cross and his second was served on a platter after Ozil’s pass put him clean on goal.

Goal No. 19 against Swansea at the Emirates

Giroud showed good movement to reach Lukas Podolski’s inch-perfect pass before firing a shot past Michel Vorm in goal.

APRIL 2014

Goal No. 20 against West Ham at the Emirates

The French striker hit the 20-goal mark when he controlled Vermaelen’s pass impeccably before blasting the shot through the goalie’s legs.

I hope you enjoyed the review.

Sayonara.

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Everton Slip Up but Can the Gunners Cross the Finish Line?

 

The Premier League is a championship where smaller clubs can beat the bigger clubs. Everyone would like to play there, this is a championship which is a little crazy, with a great atmosphere in the stadiums. – Serge Aurier

These are the quotes of a young right back from the French Ligue 1 that has been touted by the media as Bacary Sagna’s long-term replacement. Aurier, like many players and fans alike, glues his eyes to his screen to watch some high quality football that is eons ahead of his current league. Just recently, the second-placed team in the Premier League just eased past the French defending champions and Ligue 1 current table toppers.

The Premier League is highly regarded as the most exciting league in the world for more reasons than one. The massive influx of foreign talent has seen many teams adapt to the modern trends of the game and week in week out, teams continue to produce results that surprise football neutrals.

Last night, two vital matches took place simultaneously with the four teams harboring certain hopes and expectations for the season that is reaching its climax. For an oil-rich ambitious side like Manchester City, they needed a response from their defeat against fellow title contenders, Liverpool, but they hosted a Sunderland side that was rooted to the bottom of the table with faint hopes of escaping relegation.

It seemed like “business as usual” when Fernandinho put the hosts ahead but two goals for Connor Wickham almost handed Sunderland a shock victory before ex-Gunner, Samir Nasri, spared his team’s blushes with an equaliser that didn’t do any good to both teams but that result was beneficial to teams like Liverpool / Chelsea at the top and Cardiff / Fulham at the bottom.

Elsewhere, the Gunners paid keen interest to the proceedings at Goodison Park, a ground they were comfortably beaten by the hosts, Everton. The Toffees were in bullish mode winning their last seven games or so but they came up against a rejuvenated Crystal Palace side guided by Toby Pulis, a man that was discarded by Stoke due to his ‘unattractive’ style of football. Funnily enough, Stoke is just three points ahead of Crystal Palace and Pulis could still finish ahead of his former team.

Crystal Palace’s man on fire, Jason Puncheon scored a well taken goal before Scott Dann doubled their money. Steven Naismith pegged one back for Everton but Cameron Jerome scored the goal that was wildly celebrated in North London to put Palace 3-1 up. A late Kevin Mirallas goal just proved to be a consolation as Crystal Palace vacated Goodison Park with three well-earned points, a feat the Gunners weren’t even close to achieving this season.

So with just four games to go, the Gunners are in familiar territory as they face off with Everton for the right to be England’s fourth best team with the grand prize of Champions League football up for grabs. With Manchester United out of the competition, Arsenal’s qualification hopes won’t be threatened if they finish in fourth place.

This weekend, there would be a “preview of the FA Cup final” as the Gunners visit Hull for a crucial clash. Everton would host their former stalwart, David Moyes, and his Manchester United hordes and they would be hoping to do a double over United. I would have come out to say that Arsenal would ease past Hull and Everton would drop points against United but I’ve learned never to underrate any team this season, so I can only hope for the best for my club and of course, the worst for Everton.

After this game week, Arsenal would host a struggling Newcastle side while Everton would visit Southampton. This fixture can give the Gunners the opportunity to extend their lead over the Toffees because when the Gunners host West Bromwich, Everton would have a home clash with Manchester City that still harbors false hopes of winning the League. Finally, Arsenal would visit Norwich and Everton would end what has been a great campaign with a clash against Hull.

It is believed that Roberto Martinez told his superiors that he would guarantee them Champions League football but finishing the campaign in fifth place with the shoe-string budget he had should be enough to give him the Manager of the Season award. There will also be the issue of Arsene Wenger’s contract situation and I’m sure that if the French manager decides to call it quits this summer, Martinez may be considered.

However, that isn’t the bone of contention now and as it stands, the Gunners are just a point ahead of Everton and in most cases, one point is enough.

Just ask Tottenham.

Sayonara.

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