Monthly Archives: February 2012

Robin van Persie On the Spotlight and Mikel Arteta the Optimist

When it all started

It all began in the summer of 2004. Arsene Wenger was fresh from attaining immortal status in Arsenal and England as he just guided his team to what is unfortunately his last Premier League title with 26 wins and 12 draws without even knowing what defeat felt like. Le Professor went to the EreDivisie to snap up a talented 21-year Dutch winger called Robin van Persie.

In his three-year stint in Feyernoord’s first team from 2001 to 2004, van Persie won the UEFA Cup with the Dutch outfit but he had a lot of irreconcilable differences with the manager and present Dutch coach, Bert van Marwijk.

He won the best young talent of the EreDivisie award in 2002 and had a tumultuous time in the tail end of his Feyernoord career. After making 59 appearances and scoring 15 league goals in three years at the club, van Persie parted ways with Feyernoord and joined Arsenal as a long-term replacement for the great Dennis Bergkamp.

Robin van Persie made his debut against Manchester United in the Community Shield of 2004 and has been a loyal servant to the club ever since. Van Persie has had the pleasure of playing beside excellent forwards like Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp but the early seasons of his Arsenal career has been blighted by injuries.

The Flying Dutchman has also been recognized for his football exploits with the EreDivisie Best Young Talent award (2002), Rotterdam Sportsman of the Year (2006), Euro 2008 Bronze Boot and Arsenal Player of the Season (2009). He has also won the Barclay’s Player of the Month on three occasions, Arsenal Top Goal scorer on three occasions and Arsenal Goal of the season for that brilliant strike against Barcelona on the 16th of February 2011.

Van Persie’s current deal expires in 2013 and the skeptics believe that he could face the same fate with Samir Nasri. However, van Persie has made some quotes that could give Gooners worldwide rest of mind by saying that he’s a true Gunner:

“I have been at the club for eight years and I am proud of that. I am a true Gunner. I love this club and that is no secret.”

“I will sit down with the manager and president at the end of the season and we will have coffee together. We will talk about many things but I already do that quite often with the manager anyway.”

This is probably the best news I’ve heard all week long…from an Arsenal perspective by the way. Give Me Football has reported that Arsenal is ready to give the Flying Dutchman a mega offer which will probably hit the six-digit mark. It’s no less than what van Persie deserves for his exploits on the pitch.

An elated Arsene Wenger took out time to give the reasons why van Persie is so good. Wenger said that he has an exceptional technique; he boasted that he has seen many great players over 30 years but van Persie’s technique stands out.

He also talked about his quick finishing ability, great movement off the ball and his intelligence. Robin van Persie is the kind of player you’d love to sing sweet tunes about all day and you won’t want to stop.

Yesterday, I tweeted with the blog’s handle @goonerdaily:

“@goonerdaily: Describe @Persie_Official in one word”

If a lady received the kind of words my followers tweeted about van Persie, her head would have swollen so big, it’ll be no different from a hot-air balloon.

Van Persie is renowned for his gifted technique, powerful shooting range, sleek dribbling skills, set-piece taking ability, flamboyancy, good passing range, composure, versatility and most importantly, his amazing finishing ability.

The future looks bright with van Persie at the forefront and things can only get better for the Gunners if the manager gets it right this summer. The manager deserves some plaudits for the amazing work he has done with the club but his team needs some quantity and of course, quality.

Mikel Arteta has integrated himself into the nucleus of the team and he has grown to become a vital cog in Arsenal’s engine room. His absence was deeply felt in the start of the year as Arsenal’s midfield crumbled against Fulham and Swansea.

Arteta was one of Arsenal’s “better” players in that crushing night at San Siro a few weeks ago but the Spaniard’s head isn’t down as he believes that Arsenal can overcome the heavy deficit at the Emirates:

“Do we need a miracle against Milan? No — only to play and to score, to score, to score. Now the Italians will think that the tie is not yet decided and that is good for us.”

“To fight for fourth position in the table is our minimum obligation but the Champions League is still not over”

You can’t fault Arteta’s attitude but how many Gunners believe that they can achieve the impossible in the second leg? The lack of desire shown in the first leg was just one of the club’s problems that horrible night. There was also the surprisingly leaky defense, the atrocious pitch and AC Milan’s brilliance on the night.

I admire Arteta’s optimism but it’s fair to say that Arsenal would be going trophy-less this season. I would be happy if we bow out with a victory but I see Milan getting a goal or two at the Emirates because our defense contains brilliant individuals but it can be shambolic as a unit.

Moving over to transfer news, the Media Vultures have cooked up more tales that can only bring a few fits or laughter here and there. Club Call reports that Twitchy ‘Ol ‘Arry wants to buy Theo Walcott to make him join the team with the chicken on a basketball.

Theo Walcott hasn’t been in everyone’s good books recently because he’s consistently inconsistent but selling him to the old enemy? Oh please.

The Daily Mail also published an article linking the forgotten Moroccan Marouane Chamakh to Fiorentina. On potential arrivals, Footy Bunker says that Arsenal is edging closer to signing Montpellier’s hitman Olivier Giroud while Goal.com reports that Arsenal has agreed personal terms with Lukas Podolski.

There’s an interlull tonight and a few Gunners have been called up to represent their nations. I’m hoping that these international fixtures won’t give the medical team something to worry about. I’m pretty sure they are going to discuss about the player’s mysterious injuries in their upcoming conference with team doctor Gary O’ Driscoll.

That’s a wrap folks,

I’m off for my Community Development Service as a certified “otondo”.

Sayonara.

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Originally posted on Wazobia Gooners:

Chicken on a BasketBall.........Pathetic

I’ll like to apologize for writing posts equal the amount of hair you can find on Howard Webb’s head in this blog. For those that don’t know, I’m the writer of an Arsenal blog called Gooner Daily and it’s fair to say that it’s not just a blog. It’s more or less a platform that has brought me closer to a lot of diverse individuals that share a common cause, Arsenal.

The blog has a big family on Twitter, Facebook  and “brothers” like HexyDre, dkingpin, davicky1, Obitwyce, Chuck Bass, Bukinho, q_e_d14, thegreengooner, dhebbur, mayorbaze amongst others have been part of its success story.

I’ve really enjoyed the Diary of a Traveling Gooner series by the innovative greengooner and I felt it was high time I share my chronicles from an Arsenal perspective in Lagos, Nigeria. Supporting Arsenal in this part of the world isn’t an easy feat…

View original 795 more words

The Art of Diving and Wojciech Szczesny Revels in Derby Victory

Cheat-ED

When Arsenal took on Celtic in the Champions League playoff phase of the 2009/10 season, the game was marred by a theatric act by Eduardo da Silva. Despite the fact that the penalty was just a goal out the five Arsenal scored in both legs, a witch hunt followed with people holding forks and torches requesting for the Crozilian to be banned. In the North London Derby that took place last Sunday, the world’s best left-footed Chimpanzee Gareth Bale auditioned for a role in Team Great Britain’s Olympic Diving Team and I’m pretty sure he impressed a few with the art of diving.

The FIFA rule book states that a goalie that infringes a player from scoring a clear-cut scoring opportunity deserves an early bath courtesy of a red card but Mike Dean chose to point to the spot without taking any further action. There was even time to consult his “second pair of eyes” in the form of the linesman but he showcased his inconsistency by awarding the penalty despite the fact that it was glaring that he had doubts.

Emmanuel Adebayor stepped up to convert the spot kick but the Gunners ran riot as the game progressed. In the wake of this shameful incident that taints the beautiful game, former top referee Graham Poll has told everyone to stop blaming Mr. Dean but Gareth Bale and his diving crew deserve to be punished by the FA:

“If it was a foul it should have been a red card for the keeper and perhaps Dean had doubts over the accuracy of his decision and left him on the pitch. Replays showed that Bale had not been fouled but I would not blame Dean for being fooled; rather look at the conduct of Bale and plead that the FA introduce retrospective punishment for diving. This would not need a change to laws of the game, nor permission from the IFAB or FIFA as it is up to each governing body to determine their own disciplinary code.”

Someone has to take some serious action on this shameful act as it has been the difference between a win, a draw and some cases, a loss. I can remember when Chelsea took Manchester United in a crunch encounter, it was a game that promised much but when I saw Yuri Zhirkov drop in the box like a player that got shot by a sniper and Frank Lampard’s penalty settled the tie.

However, there’s a Gunner that relished this victory probably more than the fans, his team mates and Arsene Wenger. Wojciech Szczesny rose to prominence last season and it was unfortunate to know that he had never won a North London derby till Sunday. When Theo Walcott scored Arsenal’s 4th goal, Szczesny was seen executing a somersault and he followed this up with a mighty bear hug with a ball boy.

Come on You Gunners

The Big Pole still took out time to talk about one of the best feelings in his career:

 “It is comparable to that of beating Barcelona. “It is a great feeling, probably one of the best I have ever had.

“Every single goal felt better than the previous one and I was celebrating quite energetically. But I loved it.

“It is the first time I have beaten Spurs and it is just great.”

It’s not just you Wojciech, we all loved the victory for more reasons than one. We showed the world and probably the English FA how poor Twitchy Ol’ Arry could be tactically as the quick-fire comeback at halftime made him make an erratic substitution that disrupted Tottenham’s shape and worked in our favour. We let the world know that Tottenham is probably were they are because of the mediocrity offered by Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool and on our day, we can gun down any opponent.

We showed the world that Scotty Parker may not just be the right candidate to replace that ex-girlfriend shagger for the England captaincy as he showed his temperament to get a silly red card for a needless foul he didn’t have to commit. We showed the world why Robin van Persie is the best striker in the world as he created a wonder goal out of nothing.

Finally, we showed the world that a cannon is a far superior weapon to a chicken on a basketball.

In other Arsenal related news, the club has declared profits yet again, Andrey Arshavin has spoken about how his move to Zenit would help his Euro 2012 challenge and Aaron Ramsey is set to miss Gary Speed memorial match courtesy of a niggling ankle injury.

I hope the game will be played with a great sense of pride in honor of one of the Premier League’s greatest stalwarts.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal’s “Worst” Team in 15 Years Decimates Tottenham’s “Best” Team in 50 Years

5PUR2

“What better way to set things straight again than to beat Spurs. I would rather be playing them now than on any other day, and we know that a win is absolutely vital” – Robin van Persie

The stage was set for what seemed to be like a game of the season contender for Arsenal. The fans were rightly unhappy following the recent run of results that ensured that the club’s trophy hunt will continue next season and Arsene Wenger had added a wrinkle or two to his face thanks to the performance of his boys.

Arsenal’s defense was a lot more solid following the return of Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs but a few eyebrows were raised when Yossi Benayoun and Theo Walcott got the nod ahead of Gervinho and the Ox. Tottenham kicked off the game and went off to a flyer when the defense opened up allowing Emmanuel Adebawhore to tee up Louis Saha with a chance to put the visitors ahead. The Frenchman’s shot deflected off the Verm into Arsenal’s net just after four minutes.

Arsenal almost pegged Tottenham back when Robin van Persie received a drilled cross from Bacary Sagna but his effort was blocked. He had a second bite of the cherry but it fizzled wide off the mark. Tomas Rosicky also came very close with a header from van Persie’s corner but Brad Friedel in goal pulled up a magnificent save.

A bad start got a whole lot worse when Luka Modric sent in a through pass in behind the defense leaving Kieran Gibbs to contend with the world’s best left-footed Chimpanzee Gareth Bale for the ball. The Chimp got the better of Gibbsy and nicked the ball past Wojciech Szczesny in goal. Some may feel that the Chimp dived like a sack of potatoes but the ref pointed to the spot.

Up stepped Arsenal’s pantomime villain Emmanuel Adebawhore to dispatch the spot kick and he sent the visitors two up despite the fact that Szczesny followed the ball. The Togolese forward has a knack for scoring in the North London Derby but it was unfortunate to know that goal number nine went into Arsenal’s net.

Theo Walcott broke away before sending a pass to his captain, van Persie dallied on the ball and was robbed off possession. Van Persie had another shot late on that clipped the post, Gibbs ran onto the ball and fed Mikel Arteta who in turned dinked a cross into the danger area. Up stepped Bac the Man to head his effort past Friedel.

Sagna’s goal sparked a revival that saw the Gunners equalize in stunning fashion. Benoit Assou-Ekoto sent a panicky clearance that arrived at van Persie’s feet. Surrounded by Spuds, Arsenal’s talisman still managed to find some space before curling the ball sweetly past Friedel. When it seemed like a familiar story going into half-time, the Gunners stepped up the plate to give their fans something to cheer during the interval.

Who's your daddy?

Twitchy ol’ ‘Arry made two halftime substitutions bringing on Rafael van der Fart for Louis Saha and that Brazilian bloke that mistakes a football field for a boxing ring as he keeps on wearing teeth guards. Maybe in his fantasy world, tackles on the ground are the equivalent of punches to his face.

The Gunners didn’t take their foot off the pedal and almost went three up when Arteta cannily guided a through ball to Benayoun with Gibbs as a decoy. The Isreali placed his effort to the far corner but Friedel rolled back the years to make another magnificent save.

Within minutes, Song and Gibbs worked well on the left hand side before delivering a cross-field ball to Rosicky. The Czech captain fed Sagna and continued his run to the box only to cap up the delightful attacking move with a deft finish that made Ledley King and Friedel look like buffoons.

In just 13 and half minutes, Arsenal had overturned a 2-0 deficit to a 3-2 lead. It was fair to say that Theo Walcott was shite throughout the first half but he extended Arsenal’s lead with a finish that would have made his predecessor wearing the No. 14 jersey proud.

Benayoun won the ball from the Chimp in Arsenal’s box before launching a counterattack courtesy of a long pass to Rosicky. Rosicky gave Arsenal’s captain the ball and van Persie took on two Tottenham defenders before giving a well-cushioned pass to Walcott. The pacey winger mis-controlled the ball but he attempted an impudent chip past Friedel and Arsenal was four goals to the good.

While the Gooners were basking in euphoria following their team’s scintillating performance over Spurs, Walcott threw the final firework that ignited party mode at the Emirates. Alex Song noticed that he was in behind the defense and the African gem sent in a peach of a pass to Walcott who controlled the ball superbly and placed it past Friedel to make it five.

The boss brought on Carl Jenkinson to replace Kieran Gibbs and Walcott almost changed from scorer to provider when he executed a neat one-two with Tomas Rosicky but the Czech surprisingly used his left leg to shoot the ball wide. I actually thought that he’ll give us one of his Ricardo Quaresma “outside of the boot” moments.

Late on Wenger brought on Le Forehead and the Ox for his impressive first choice wingers but there was a dark moment when Scotty Parker lounged into Vermaelen to receive his marching orders for a second bookable offence. The sound of the final whistle was like music to everyone’s ears as the Gunners let out their recent frustrations against the old enemy.

Szczesny (7.5) hardly put a wrong foot all game long and was he was blameless for both goals conceded.

Sagna (8.0) nullified every threat Bale the Chimp posed and scored the goal that sparked a revival.

Gibbs (7.5) was brilliant in his role, making wonderful tackles and he was more than a handful in attack.

Vermaelen (8.0) was a colossus in defense, breaking up play and he showcased his aerial ability from time to time.

Koscielny (8.0) passed his fitness test to put up another confidence performance alongside the Belgian and was a far better selection than the disappointing Johan Djourou.

Song (8.5) was a standout performer in midfield and he crowned it up with that peach of a pass for Walcott.

Arteta (8.0) had a great game and showed off his defensive prowess with various tackles in the middle of the park.

Rosicky (8.5) joined the party when Arsenal needed him the most and is certainly looking like the Little Mozart purchased from Dortmund who’s renowned to be an orchestrator in midfield.

Walcott (8.5) had two shots on target, two goals, three key passes, 100% through ball accuracy but he was utter shite in the first half. :P

Benayoun (8.0) was the “trump card” that worked perfectly well for Wenger. He helped his full back a lot but there were times he had a touch to many.

Van Persie (9.0) produced a goal that epitomized his class and outstanding quality and did well to lay on an assist for the goal that gave Arsenal some breathing space.

Jenkinson, Le Forehead and the Ox didn’t play long enough to have ratings.

I’ll end this post with post-match words culled from Twitchy ol’ ‘Arry himself:

“At 2-0, I didn’t feel comfortable and at 2-2 I felt even less comfortable and the momentum was with them at half-time. They came off to a standing ovation and you knew it was going to be a very tough second half”

“Van Persie with the second goal was amazing. He had a foot to aim in and he struck it in the top corner. They had a bit of quality about them today, they were busy in the middle of the park and it was one of those days for us”

Few skeptics like Roy Keane labeled this Arsenal side as Wenger’s worst in his 16-year tenure with the club. They just mauled Tottenham’s best side in 50 years.

A team that is currently having its best season since the world started witnessing Colored TV

Dear 5PUR2, North London is Red and White

Hi 5-2 all Arsenal fans out there

Sayonara.

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The North London Derby Without the Little Russian Assassin

Andrey Arshavin has returned back to Siberia to represent the club he made over 300 appearances for and was instrumental in their league win in 2007.

He also gave the two assists that were needed to sink Rangers in the 2008 Europa League final. In the same year, he dazzled Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup to win the trophy for his Russian side.

On the international scene, he helped his country to win the bronze medal in the last European Championships that took place in Switzerland and Austria in 2008. He was very distraught when his country missed out of the 2010 World Cup but he played a major role in his country’s bid to win the hosting rights for the 2018 World Cup even though he won’t be among the 23 men that will represent his country by virtue of his age.

He’ll be 37 in 2018 and he’s certainly no Roger Miller.

In his first season at Arsenal, he took the Premier League by storm with his account opener being at the hands of Arsenal’s goal scoring maiden, Paul Robinson. His highest point in his Arsenal career was the incredible four-goal affair he had at Anfield in the spring of 2009.

The first goal was from a Cesc Fabregas pass after some good work by Samir Nasri, he worked the second himself after some poor Liverpool defending, his hat-trick was gifted to him on a platter thanks to more atrocious defending from Liverpool and his fourth came from a brilliant counter attack that was launched by Theo Walcott. His first full season with Arsenal was last season and he came up with the goods scoring 10 league goals in 30 appearances but he got injured when Arsenal played Barcelona in that 2-2 draw at the Emirates.

Last season, he wasn’t that little magician we all felt he could be but he still did well enough to score 10 goals and lay on a lion’s share of assists for his teammates. The most notable finishes were his match winners against Everton and FC Barcelona.

This campaign, Arshavin’s lethargic performances saw him go further down the pecking order and many Gooners asked for his head on a plate. Despite the fact that this move may be considered as a “breath of fresh air” to many, I’m quite bewildered to know that Arsene Wenger left Arshavin go with a considerable chunk of this season left to play.

Arsenal’s “first choice” wingers are Gervinho and Theo Walcott with the Ox and Yossi Benayoun raring to go on the sidelines. Judging from Arsenal’s recent injury woes, sending a player of Arshavin’s quality out on loan was a poor piece of judging from Arsene Wenger.

That’s my opinion though.

I wish Andrey all the best in his new club and I hope the Italian baldy Lucciano Spaghetti…Spalleti would play to his strengths. Shame he won’t be able to represent Zenit in the Champions League because he’s cup-tied.

The Emirates is all set to host the next edition of the North London Derby. This fixture brings North London to a stand still and it would be the 172nd meeting between these two giants. Twitchy Ol’ ‘Arry got the better off Wenger in October thanks to a superb handball controlled finish from Rafael van der Fart and a long range belter from Kyle Walker.

It’s actually puzzling to know that Arsenal is currently 10 points behind their fierce rivals and a loss today would certainly be too much distance to cover. Besides, the team plays this game on the back of two disappointing defeats so another loss would certainly cause some uprising.

So much has been made about Tottenham’s ascension but some fail to believe that Arsenal will always be better than them. For starters, Tottenham is having their best season since the world started witnessing Colored TV.

I don’t even want to to write about the amount of League titles they’ve won or the amount of years they’ve been in the Champions League. St. Totteringham’s day seems unlikely as Arsenal is running out of games but a win would go a long way in restoring the balance to North London.

To team news, I expect Wojciech Szczesny to replace Lukasz Fabianski in goal. The elder Pole has probably been shortlisted among the Gunners that may be axed this summer but I’ll prefer him to stay because he still has some glimpses of quality in him.

The club is sweating over the fitness of Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny but this game might come too soon for them. Bacary Sagna would man the right flank while Thomas Vermaelen would be deployed on the left flank. This would mean that Alex Song may be dropped back to partner the shaky Johan Djourou in the heart of Arsenal’s defense.

Song’s potential exit from the midfield would mean that the trio would certainly pick itself with Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky taking their positions in the middle of the park.

The exit of Arshavin might have raised a few eyebrows (mine included), but I expect Robin van Persie to lead the line and he’ll be supported by Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on both flanks.

A schematic illustration of the possible starting XI would be:

Szczesny

Sagna-Song-Djourou-Vermaelen

Ramsey-Rosicky-Arteta

The Ox-RVP-Le Forehead

To be frank, I’m not too optimistic about Arsenal getting a victory because a part of me has lost some faith in this team’s ability…till the summer at least.

Enjoy the game wherever you are.

I’ve bled for Arsenal but I urge you all to read @zaynab123 ‘s post on how she lost her virginity to the club.

Sayonara.

You can follow Gooner Daily on Twitter  @goonerdaily. I’ll follow back

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