Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Arsenal Say Hello To Bernd Leno And Wave Goodbye To Jack Wilshere

It’s been an eventful few days for Arsenal with comings and goings at the club as we signed a goalkeeper and lost a midfielder. Bernd Leno joined from Bayer Leverkusen just a few hours before we heard the news from Jack Wilshere that he will be playing his football elsewhere next season.

Leno looks like a pretty decent keeper to me and his arrival will surely see the exit of either Petr Cech or David Ospina or maybe even both of them. I think we needed a new keeper as neither Cech nor Ospina have been impressive and we need a keeper who the defenders can depend upon. I’m looking forward to seeing him at least compete for thr first choice keeper’s role with either Cech or Ospina and I hope he is good enough to make it his own.  

Wilshere has been in negotiations with the club about a new contract for quite a while now, but it appears those discussions have come to an end. He said he was prepared to take a pay cut, but following discussions with Unai Emery he made the decision the best thing for him was to move when his contract ends at the end of this month. I can understand why Emery might want to bring in his own players, but I will also be sad to see Wilshere leave.

For me he was a player with huge potential who never really got to live up to that potential mainly due to injuries. He has missed an awful lot of time due to a series of injuries which all seemed to stem from an ankle injury a good few years ago. That’s not to say he hasn’t had his good moments at the club, but it has been a few years since we have seen the best of him.

He played plenty of games last season, but his return in terms of goals and assists was minimal to say the least. He was loaned out to Bournemouth the previous season after appearing unwilling to fight for a place at Arsenal having missed all of the previous season through injury. There’s no doubting his love for the club and I’m sure leaving us will hurt him, but there’s little room for sentiment in football.

I wish him well wherever he goes except when he plays against us of course and I hope he can overcome his injury problems and do really well for the rest of his career. His exit opens up a place in the squad you would imagine and we look like we could be lining his replacement up already. If the rumours are to be believed Lucas Torreira will join us from Sampdoria quite soon. I won’t be counting any chickens until he signs on the dotted line though.

With Wilshere on the way out it was interesting to see Granit Xhaka extend his contract and you can only assume he has done so as Unai Emery wants him at the club. He’s a player that divides opinion, but I think the right manager and the right coaching could make him a very important player for us. I’m looking forward to seeing how Emery can influence him next season and I’m hoping we’ll see a lot more consistency and defensive stability from him.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

World Cup Update From An Arsenal Perspective

With the first round of games at the World Cup over it’s time to look at the impact of the Arsenal players in the tournament so far. We have nine players in total playing for their countries, but not all of them are guaranteed starters.

First up I suppose we have to talk about Mesut Ozil and his contribution, or lack thereof, in the defeat for Germany against Mexico. Germany didn’t play well on the day, but for me far too many pundits and Arsenal fans are far too quick to lay the blame at his door time after time. If I hear one more idiot saying “he’s nicking a living” I think my head will explode. 

For me he was far from their worst player, but those who crave attention find it easy to single him out despite evidence to the contrary. He’s not the sort of player to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and win it on his own, but it seems nothing else is good enough than just that for some. His statistics on the day were quite good and it’s difficult to hold him responsible when others fail to finish the chances he invariably creates. Germany are far from done in this tournament though and we will probably see a lot more of them and Ozil too.

Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichsteiner were both important cogs in the Swiss team that got a creditable 1-1 against tournament favourites Brazil. That point gives them a very good chance of progressing to the knockout stages, but they still have a tricky game against Serbia as well as a game against Costa Rica. I thought both of them played quite well without being spectacular and I have no doubt they both have more to offer.

Lichsteiner did well against Brazil’s star player considering he had to play behind Xherdan Shaqiri who didn’t offer him too much defensive cover. Hector Bellerin will still be our first choice right back, but I would have no worries seeing Lichsteiner coming into the team at any time. Xhaka can do better and I would expect to see him get more of the ball in their next two games and hopefully make a real impact on those games.

Alex Iwobi played from the start for Nigeria in their 2-0 defeat against Croatia and that defeat leaves them on the brink of exiting the tournament with games against Argentina and Iceland to come. Iwobi didn’t have too much of an impact on the game and he was substituted shortly after the hour mark. He’s another player who might still make an impact though and I hope he can retain his place for the next two games and maybe go some way towards proving his doubters wrong.

Joel Campbell came off the bench for the last 30 minutes for Costa Rica in their 1-0 defeat against Serbia. With Brazil and Switzerland still to play the chances of progression for them are slim and they could easily end up pointless when the group concludes. I thought Costa Rica looked a little sharper in attack when Campbell came on and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start their next game.

Mohamed Elneny has played two games for Egypt now and defeats against Uruguay and Russia mean their tournament is as good as over. He hasn’t played badly in their two games, but he didn’t exactly make a huge impression either. It looks like he’ll be on his holidays very soon and back to pre season training for Arsenal nice and early.

David Ospina played in Colombia’s 2-1 defeat against Japan and there was very little he could do to prevent their first goal which was a penalty. He didn’t cover himself in glory for Japan’s winner though and I thought it was a ball he should have come for and won. Colombia have an uphill task with games to come against Senegal and Poland, but they can still progress to the last 16. They weren’t helped by having to play for 87 minutes with 10 men after an early red card and the absence of star man James Rodriguez too.

Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal didn’t get to play for their respective countries in their first games and they can only hope they get a chance to show what they can do as the competition progresses. Both England and Spain will be expected to progress to the last 16 and there’s every chance both of them will be called upon at some stage.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Arsenal Face A Tough Start To The New Season

Was it only me who thought the opening day of the World Cup was a strange day for the Premier League to release the fixtures for next season. That’s just what they did though and it took our minds off the biggest competition in World sport for at least a few hours. It’s no so easy to get embedded into the World Cup when your country didn’t make it, but I’ve a feeling I’ll be addicted before the weekend is over.

I hoped to get a good team in my family sweepstake to peak my interest a little, but I can’t see South Korea making too much of an impression. There are prizes for the first three teams, the best goal and also the team that comes last so technically I still have a chance of claiming a prize. The last place prize already looks like it could be heading the way of my sister in law who drew Saudi Arabia.

I digress and it’s time to get back to the fixtures for the new season. Arsenal start with a game at home to last season’s record breaking champions and as games go it doesn’t really get any tougher. That follow that game with a trip to the Champions from the previous season as the pay a visit to Chelsea. It’s certainly a baptism of fire for new manager Unai Emery and he’s going to have his work cut out to get anything from those two games. 

The next few months bring a run of less high profile games with the exception of a home game against Liverpool in early November before we start December at home to Spurs and away to United within four days of each other. There are seven League games in December and the proposed winter break certainly won’t be happening this season. We finish the calendar year with the return trip to Liverpool before the return games against Chelsea and City in late January and early February. March starts with the return games against Spurs and United and we finish the season with a run of eight games which could see us go on a good run. 

Of course the dates of plenty of those games will change as they’re scheduled to go on TV and I expect our first two games to be shown live. Dates will also change due to Cup competitions for us or potential opponents plus the weather always seems to play a role at some stage in the winter. 

There are pre season friendlies to come before the season starts too and it’s great to see Arsenal heading to Ireland for the first time in over 30 years. I’ll definitely be at the game despite it being a work day and having work the next day too. I’m looking forward to the game with Chelsea as the opposition and I hope we play a fairly strong team with the new season starting 10 days later.

Finally for today we haven’t signed any more players since the arrival of Stephan Lichsteiner, but if the rumours are to be believed we have a fair few lined up. Players who do well at the World Cup tend to rise quickly in price and we would be better off snapping up the players we want before they can make too much of an impression on the biggest stage of all. Let’s just hope it can happen as Emery looks to build a team for the future.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Arsenal Players At The World Cup

With the World Cup only just around the corner it’s time to take a look at the Arsenal players who we will get to see playing in it for their countries. There are nine on show overall and I’ll go through them one by one starting with the ones with the best chance of actually lifting the trophy.

The Arsenal player with the best chance of winning the World Cup is probably Mesut Ozil considering Germany are the reigning champions and second favourites to lift the trophy. They have a very strong squad and Ozil is an intrical part of their team as long as he can recover from the injury which hampered his end to the season with Arsenal. If any Arsenal player is going to take a World Cup winners medal home it’s Ozil and it would be a real surprise if Germany didn’t at least make it to the semi finals. I’d give Ozil a rating of 40/100 for his chances.

Nacho Monreal has had a very good season for Arsenal despite the club having it’s worst season defensively under Arsene Wenger. He’s not a definite starter for Spain, but he can be depended upon if he gets the call to give his all. With Spain’s hopes in turmoil after the last minute sacking of their manager they might find their chances of regaining the trophy they won in 2010 that bit more difficult. After the events of this week I think his chances of lifting the trophy have drifted out and maybe they at about 20/100.

Despite playing for England Danny Welbeck is probably the Arsenal player with the third best chance of winning the World Cup. After recovering from his latest injury he finished the season well and he will be hopeful of getting a chance to make an impact in Russia. England should get out of their group, but their record in the knock out stages in tournaments isn’t good and they will have to raise their game to have an impact on this competition. If they reach the last eight they will have done quite well and for that reason I think his chances should get a rating of about 7/100.

David Ospina might not be the first choice goalkeeper for Arsenal, but he is most certainly the first choice for Colombia with nearly 100 caps to his name. They don’t have an easy group though, but their chances of making the last 16 are still pretty good. On the other hand their chances of winning the trophy are fairly long and even longer if Ospina insists on standing behind his line. They might be rank outsiders compared to the big boys, but only 10 other teams are a shorter price which means I should give them a chance of about 3/100 of winning.

Granit Xhaka can divide opinion among Arsenal fans, but he’s certainly one of the star players in a Swiss side that tends to qualify with ease and disappoint at tournaments. They will have to finish ahead of either Brazil or Serbia to make the knockout stages and that could prove to be more than problematic for them. If they’re going to make an impression they will need Xhaka to be at his best, but the chances are they will struggle for the goals they need to progress. I think Xhaka can make an impression at the World Cup, but his hopes of lifting trophy are probably about 1/100.

Stephan Lichsteiner has only just joined Arsenal after a very successful time at Juventus and he will be key to Switzerland’s chances too. He’s a vastly experienced defender at the very highest level in the game and he will make his 100th appearance for his country in their opening game against Brazil on Sunday. Like Xhaka he will be hoping to at least make the knock out stages in what will surely be his last chance to impress on the biggest stage of all. Like Xhaka his chances have to be 1/100.

Mohamed Elneny got injured towards the end of the season, but it looks like he will recover in time to represent his country at the World Cup. They’re in a group with the hosts, but it’s a group which gives them a great chance of progressing to the knockout stages. If they do make the last 16 they might need a bit of magic from Mo Salah to have a chance against any team, but who’s to say that won’t happen. With a ranking out of 100 it’s not easy to rank Egypt’s chances, but I can’t really go any lower than 1/100.

Alex Iwobi is another player who divides Arsenal fans, but it’s difficult to deny that he is very talented. How he puts that talent to use for Arsenal seems to be the issue, but he is certainly making an impact for his country with five goals in his 19 games and some good performances too which were topped off with two goals in a 4-2 friendly win against Argentina. They have a very tough group though and it will be a huge task for them to progress to the last 16. That means I can’t give them any more than the minimum 1/100, but in reality it should probably be less.

Joel Campbell is still an Arsenal player despite being out on loan for what seems like an awfully long time. Costa Rica are in a very tough group though and only four teams have a lesser chance of winning the trophy if the bookies are to be believed. It would be a huge deal for them to make the last 16 from such a tough group, but it’s something I just can’t see happening. Again their rating should be a lot less, but I’ll give them the minimum of 1/100.

With Ireland not qualifying for the World Cup I’m not sure who to support, but I will at least enjoy watching the Arsenal players playing for their countries.

That’s it for today.

See you tomorrow.