Per Got Lucky?

It became official that Arsenal took up the option in the German’s contract for a further year contract extension until 2018. It was a welcomed news for some Gooners-me inclusive, and a total thumbs down for others. Per has had some up and down during his stay so far at North London, but none  can deny his attitude and passion for the game and for Arsenal. He has his short comings which is mostly lack of pace. The world cup winner would have been the perfect central defender if he could chase down a player much quicker than he most often does. 

Many of our fans would rather Arsène let him go and use the extra cash taking him (and other dead woods; in their opinion:Ramsey, Jenkinson, Sanogo etc) off the wage bill would generate to give Alexis and Özil whatever they are asking for. For a lay man, it makes sense, bearing in mind that we have more than adequate cover in central defence; Mustafi, Koscielny, Gabriel and Holding. However, looking at it from Arsène’s point of view, Mertesacker is a world class defender whose positional and tactical reading of the game is second to none, hence should be a role model to the younger defenders and also lend his voice in the dressing room. For player whose pace my granny can match, to survive in EPL, playing for a top club like Arsenal; he must be doing other things apart that people are reluctant to see. His ball services from deep are some midfielders dream.

“My love for this club is authentic. I care a lot about team-mates, about fans, and I want people to identify with us. It’s very important to me now and it always has been. I feel like there’s always been a link between myself and Arsenal.”
– Per

These younger defenders need a great player with experience to learn from. He’s a fine role model and keeps other players grounded in the dressing room. So it’s no brainer that Arsène decided to keep him for another year.

Today we play Burnley at the Emirates stadium. It’s a good opportunity to catch up on other top teams. Liverpool lost at home to guess who? Swansea. That same Swansea that some pundits didn’t think they deserved to be in EPL because we cracked them inside their backyard. Shame on biased punditry. Manchester United dropped points too, so did Manchester city and Tottenham. What a weekend it’s going to be if we manage to nick all 3 points. Here is to a perfect weekend! Go get the points Arsenal! COYG!!

Fair Play Gooner.

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Would They? 

We had what some pundits chose to call a “walk in the park win in which Arsenal did absolutely nothing to deserve” on Saturday last week at the liberty stadium against Swansea City football club. This match ended 4 goals to none for the Gunners. It made me think that punditry should not be for everyone, not even all players who had great careers; because punditry is about your impression of a football match with respect to available stats from the game. However what we have, most often than naught, are a bunch of people inside a studio with bias on their eyes the size of Wales. 

During this said match, an incident occurred just before half time that had the potential of altering the dynamics of the whole match; KI S.Y. was given a yellow card for incitation in what looked to be a penalty call against Arsenal at the onset. For up to 15 seconds, I thought “hell no not again”, cos we have been on the receiving end of dubious calls for a long time now that I gave my heart some allowance to accommodate one or two, however unwarranted they were, during any given Arsenal match. Thankfully, the call was against KI who trudged against Koscielny’s static foot in a bid to earn a penalty. Thankfully, Mike Jones who officiated the match was astute enough, albeit with some stroke of providence to us, to snife it out as incitation; and he was spot on. On another day, Mike Dean or some other bloke who shouldn’t have any business officiating an EPL match, would have awarded it a penalty to the host team. It’s little wonder he was demoted to the championship. Woe unto thee championship clubs…

       This man and his likes are killing EPL

Here is a nice read on some of the worst officiated games of our season so far.

At the end of last year, I came across news headline about FIFA introducing a video replay technology in football. I was very elated about it because the game was becoming increasingly annoying for passionate football fans  like me across the globe, especially in the English league, who commit a lot of emotions and most often are hurt by poor officiating by the likes of Mike Dean. Imagine millions of minds being troubled on account of a decision which would have been verified in 3 seconds with replay technology. The idea is for the match official to consult a video assistant before making certain decisions which will greatly and unfairly impact on the game if gotten wrong: Hand balls, penalty call, incitation, offside call, disallowed goals etc.

Just a few days ago, the FA were in the news, this time they were looking at introducing a retrospective ban for diving. Diving is just one of the vices plaguing the beautiful game. The match officials, consciously or unconsciously, are being increasingly in the wrong on decision calls for most of these vices. The frequency of which beggars disbelief. This can never be sustainable for the beautiful game. Don’t expect fans to take this nonsense forever. Italian league used to be the best league back in the day.. Introducing a retrospective ban will not bring back the lost points to a team who got cheated by a player’s diving antics. So how is that fair for competition? Oh it brings in a bit of revenue into the FA cofers? Let’s face it, the said player would end up paying a fine in addition to the “ban”. My questions are: why is the FA looking at introducing retrospective punishment as opposed to introducing video assistant which will detect a dive in real time? Is the FA secretly giving certain teams undue advantage over others using the PGMOL? Won’t the emergence of this diving punishment be the end of any talk of video assistant? Do you really think FA will implement this punishment and video assistant too? Your guess is as good as mine.

In other news, the team is doing well at the injury front because Bellerin is back in training. Per is rumoured to have signed a new one year contract extension worth around £70k/wk. Don’t know if its good news or bad news to Arsenal fans. Our opponent in the FA cup 4th round has been confirmed; Southampton, 28th Jan. 2017. Next up is our return to Emirate stadium to host Burnley in the PL. Let’s hope for a great weekend of football. COYG!

We Are Back Again!

Mesut, Pires and Mustafi in training yesterday.

Happy new year everyone! It’s my first post this year. It’s been an eventful but somewhat unfortunate December for Arsenal. We played 6 games across all competition which saw us produce all manner of performances: from perfect and clinical  (against West ham and at Basel) to poor and abysmal (Everton and Man city). Won 4 and lost 2. On paper it looked somewhat of a good return, but considering we lost 6 points in a very tight looking table, it was a big lose of momentum.

January met us with a hard fought 2 nil win at home to Palace (Not forgetting Giroud’s spectacular scorpion kick goal), then a near disastrous 3 all at Bournemouth, which would have been a demoralizing factor for the team, but the boys put the heat on the Cherries during the last 20 minutes to salvage a draw. A trip to Preston North End lived up to its hype with all the cup drama at play. Here we are today with a tricky trip to Wales to face Swansea. 3pm (GMT)

Cohen Bramall, 20, signs for Arsenal.

In other news, Arsène potentially unearthed a gem from non league division, Cohen Bramall. His story is that of hope and hard work. I wish him all the best and hope he will keep his head on his shoulders and work his way into that first team. Toral was recalled from his loan spell at Granada because they would not give him game time. He was subsequently sent out again on loan to Rangers in the Scottish premier league. I wish him all the best as I have high regards for him. Dan Crowley also left for Holland in the Dutch  Eredivisie for Go Ahead Eagles. Another bright prospect that needs game time. 

Giroud, Koscielny and Coquelin all signed long term contracts with the club a few days ago. Papers claimed Alexis Sanchez is the more likely person  to sign a contract extension between him and Özil. The later came out the other day to rebuff Thierry Henry’s remarks about him, saying that his influence for joining Arsenal was Arsène and would want assurance about the future of the manager. It makes real sense then if that is truly the situation. So what Arsenal need to do is give Arsène a longer contract and the two contract rebels (Özil and Sanchez) would sign on the dotted lines. He returns today to the squad to face Swansea after missing 2 weeks due to some “mystery illness”.

“The club knows that I am here most of all because of Arsène Wenger. He is the one who signed me and he is the one whose trust I have.”

                       -Mesut Özil

Suddenly things have almost fallen in place. The team is building up good momentum again, there are no much injuries, the contract situation of most of the senior players are resolved or being resolved; suddenly we are back in business! We need to win big today to keep the pressure on the top four and go on a winning run again..it’s about time! Let’s hope for better days. Let’s hope that 2017 becomes that year we break the jinx of not lifting the EPL title. I see the potentials this team has got. It’s our year! COYG!!

-Fair Play Gooner

What Next For Arsenal?

It was a one week to forget for Arsenal as they failed to pick up a single point in two games. First was at Goodison park where a host of school boys error changed what would have been a routine win for Arsenal. Much has been written on that match. Next was the clash with Manchester City at the Etihad stadium on Sunday. Again, lack of urgency and seriousness cost Arsenal what would have been a routine win if they had maintained focus.

However, one denominator was consistent with both games; Arsène Wenger crying foul about the officiating of both matches. At Everton it was the manner in which the toffees made the game physical while the ref failed to control the game accordingly, gifting very crucial decisions in Everton’s favour and denying Arsenal of very clear calls. Koeman was not having that and accused Wenger of being a “sore loser”. The game at Etihad picked up from where the previous one stopped at, gifting city two goals which were clear offside. Truth be told, Arsenal were piss-poor on the day, but does not make Martin Atkinson right in leaving those two goals to stand. Arsène, rightly, was less than impressed by those unfortunate outcome, as he voiced his frustration:

“The two goals are two offside goals and in a game of that stature I feel enough is enough for us. We got some bad decisions for the whole season and today I looked at the goals and both are offside.

“The second one is five yards offside. The first one is still offside. But what can I do? We have to live with that. We have to look at ourselves and analyse why we lost the game.”

Sanè scored Man city’s first goal. It clearly was offside.

Here is a detailed piece on refereeing in England as written by Untold Arsenal.

Recently, Alexis and Özil contract situation have made headlines in the media. Apparently, their agents are looking to milk Arsenal as much as they can, given their clients form or lack of it. Personally, I think they went too far with their demands. A club from China offered Alexis £400k/wk which his camp is using as leverage to demand a king’s ransom from Arsenal. Özil, in spite of his bad form in recent weeks, is demanding in excess of £300k/wk from Arsenal. It must be recalled that the said player was a passenger on sunday at Etihad stadium. So much that this meme was made by Arsenal fans in that respect: 

Gary Neville couldn’t put his situation more nicely:

You talk about Sanchez and Ozil as though Arsenal Football Club is going to end if they leave. Arsenal have had far better players than them over the last 20 years. I wouldn’t worry too much about them holding the club to ransom. Make them an offer and if they don’t stay let them go. Arsenal Football Club will still be here in a 100 years’ time.

Souness had this to say on the matter:

They are asking for money that is only given to players who have won the big trophies. And they haven’t won any big trophies.

Henry speaking on the matter said:

At the moment they are holding the club hostage. They are amazing but if they are on that amount of money, I want a hat-trick every week – and also when there’s no game! You need to be in a situation where you’ve won something already for the club to ask for that amount of money.

Sanchez at the Etihad stadium. Is he being affected by the contract situation?

I agree with these legends. They won it all, played for so long on the big stage, but never held their clubs hostage as this two are trying to do with Arsenal. I am all for giving them a new contract, but not on those terms. Özil will have to earn it. Sanchez is working his ass off in every game, but £400k/wk? Way too much.

So what next for Arsenal? First, the gunners must rediscover the form that took them almost 20 games without defeat across all competition. They must hope that Mustafi returns, at the worst, on schedule. They must handle these contract negotiations in such a way that it does not interfere with the productivity on the pitch. Lastly, Arsène must strengthen the squad this January; increase competition in the squad by getting one or two players in. Payet and Draxler will not be bad.

Let’s hope that Arsenal’s form will start to improve starting with the next game at home against the Baggies on boxing day fixtures. COYG!!

-Fair Play Gooner 

Wenger’s Blueprint For Man City Game.

The boys were hard at training yesterday at the London Colney training base before jetting out to Manchester. Looking at them, it was evident that the disappointment of our midweek game against Everton has been banished. The Arsenal players were all smiles and went about their business with zip and zest. We lost ground but we lost no one to injury in a game where, as usual, the referee had a poor game. 

Now Arsenal have a chance to remain within healthy distance from the top team if they can pull off a remarkable display and nick the whole three points at stake in Manchester. The team is well rested and must have been drilled about what’s at stake this evening. Win and the deficit is 6 points, lose and a chasm is opening up for real. The gunners face a Manchester team who are not at their best. They have their two best players (Aguero and Fernandinho)suspended and another member of their starting eleven (Gündolan) lost to injury. Hence there won’t be any better time to play Manchester City.

Arsène had this to say in his press conference;

The key to big games against City is to defend well together and not be timid every time you get the ball,” said Wenger.

“We have to have a go and try to attack, because that’s part of our philosophy. Overall that’s what you have to do but you have not to forget as well that City’s team is very strong going forward, maybe even more now with Pep Guardiola, so we certainly have to focus on defending well.

“I don’t know [why they’ve been inconsistent],” said Wenger. “Honestly, it’s not my main subject and preoccupation at the moment.

“I believe that in the Premier League every game is difficult and every game has its own difficulties and uncertainties and every game is a fight.

“The teams who are exposed in the Champions League, like they are, like we are, are a bit more exposed during this period because they played in midweek, we played in midweek as well at Basel.

“We’ve had three away games out of four. And I believe we paid a little bit the price at Everton like City must do sometimes when they go to a Premier League game, because everyone physically is at his top.

“[I expected] that Pep would bring his philosophy through and you have to accept that he tries to do that,” added the boss. “I respect the fact that he firstly has the philosophy and wants to play football that I respect. You expect him to put that print into his team.”

In reality, I agree with Wenger on that approach. Looking at how Manchester city like to play the high pressing game with a bunch of players not so suited to that style, and Pep’s insistence on his philosophy could all play into Arsène’s hands. First of all, it would be an insult for Pep to play a back 3 against Arsenal today. I expect him to do Just that. Secondly, it is very naive of Pep to try to play from the back with a goalie like Bravo and a defenders like John Stone. Letting go of Hart for a clown like Bravo was a colossal mistake. That will also play into Arsenal’s hands. Thirdly, in recent matches, they have struggled with creating clear cut chances which I expect to continue today, given that their main attacking threat is serving his suspension.

My last word on this match is that I expect Arsenal to win. It will be difficult, but if the boys can defend as a unit and break out on counters with intent to score, then Manchester City would not stand a chance this evening. 

Here is to a win for Arsenal at the Etihad stadium. Let’s hope that the boys will turn up in style and turn the heat on Pep’s charges. COYG!!

-Fair Play Gooner


Déjà Vu? Bayern vs Arsenal.

We have lived through it more times in recent memory than I can count on my fingers, we all had that pre-draw-monition that we would get Bayern or Barça; we all saw it coming. When the draw was finally made, it was just to confirm our hope or fear, depending on what spectrum you are looking from. Fear for those fans who think that drawing a “strong” opponent in the last 16 means we are out of the contest. Hope for those who think that to be a champion, you must beat a champion. To be called the best, you must first humiliate the best.

Arsène summed it up with these interview on Arsenal.com;

“They said they made the world in seven days, this is the seventh day for us, so we have to get a special day!” the manager said.

“Many times [in the past] we were in a position where we played at home and we wanted to make the difference and after 10 minutes we conceded a goal and after you think already, ‘Oh no’. This time the advantage is that we play first away from home.

“If we can keep our strength away from home that can help us – let’s have a good first game then we can finish the job at home.

“We are all here to change history and to make history so we have to change what happened before. And make it better.

“I must tell you the best way to have momentum when we go in the Champions League is to have a good position in the league and [ensure] the belief is high. I am convinced that is absolutely vital because I have had experience of it.”


We did every thing right to get a favourable draw, and we did get a favourable draw. The day the Gunners got it was not yesterday, but last week Tuesday at Basel when Arsenal charges tore the Swiss champions apart (Basel 1:4 Arsenal) to top the group, albeit with a little help from Ludogorets who frustrated PSG in Paris(PSG 2:2 Ludogorets). Being top of the table in group stage does not guarantee an easy round of 16, however, it pits you at home for the very crucial second leg game of the last 16 tie which every team crave for.

I know we have faced Bayern 10 times since 2000/01 season. I know we have won just 3 times out of 10. I know we haven’t progressed from the group stage for the last 6 seasons, but this season is different. I say from the spectrum of hope that we can beat any foe we come across this time. The team is focused and they are starting to believe they are as good as any other top club in Europe. Ancelloti’s men on the other hand would not be opening a 20 point gap at the top of Bundesliga this term; which means they won’t be resting their best players for this tie. Again, the Bavarians look a shadow of their old selves, hence, this is the best time to play Bayern Munchen; it’s just a script written by the gods😉 This is our time to progress for good.

Here is the draw in full:

Man City v Monaco
R’Madrid v Napoli
Benfica v Dortmund
Bayern v Arsenal
Porto v Juventus
Leverkusen v Atletico
PSG v Barcelona
Sevilla v Leicester

Lastly, this is a match Day for us. We travel to Goodison Park to face the Toffees in the EPL. Time: 7:45 p.m. Let’s keep the momentum building,  cos like Arsène said, it will have a bearing on whether we progress in the champions league or not. COYG!!

-Fair Play Gooner

Arsenal Staked Their Claim Against Stoke City.

Good morning folks! So our match yesterday ended Arsenal 3-1 Stoke. Walcott, Özil and Iwobi on the score sheet. Charlie Adams scored one from the spot for Stoke before Arsenal’s three goal party started. The pundits were like Xhaka should have been sent off. Smh. Why send him off after a penalty is given for an innocuous accident in which Allen ran straight into him (Xhaka) without the ball? I must say that English referees are becoming more crappy by the day, but that will be a topic for another time. Let’s enjoy our win.

Err, you can read a detailed analysis of the performance of this ref (Lee Mason) who officiated our match yesterday HERE  

Theo walcott took advantage of the width which Bellerin’s introduction provided to float inside the central area of the box more. Alexis picked out the young Spaniard with a spectacular through ball, which he in turn controlled with aplomb, and picked out the hoovering Theo Walcott who scored from a tight angle with the outside of his right foot to ensure we finished the half on a strong foot. This goal took his tally to 10 for the season and his wife will have to get him that coffee machine.😉

Özil have scored nine goal in this campaign, more than he scored in the whole of last season. Whoever said Arsène is not a top manager? It was the Ox who lofted a pass, from about 10 yards inside the Stoke city half, onto the German midfielder who took advantage of the stranded Grant to guide the ball With his head into an empty net. It was a classy finish which oozed of confidence.

Our loss of Mustafi was made a bit less serious with the return of HECTOR BELLERIN. The German defender was replaced after 25 minutes when he picked up a muscular injury which might keep him out of the squad for 21 days. The Right back’s run gave Stoke defenders all manner of troubles. We have so missed you Bellerin.

Here is what the boss said about the German: 

It’s a bad one. He had nothing in midweek. I would not have played him today (if he had). I had Hector Bellerin on the bench. I could have played Holding or Gabriel. He wanted to play in Basel, because he said ‘no it’s nothing’, and it was completely clear. I checked three times and there was no problem for. I don’t know why it happened, but it looks a ‘good’ hamstring strain.

on the timeframe for Mustafi’s return

Look, the minimum when you go out like that is 21 days. After that, today is December 10, so you are 21 days, that means he’ll have a nice Christmas!    

  So let’s say a big welcome back to Hector and wish the German a speedy comeback. Finally we are having injuries at a controllable rate…unlike Before, and suddenly we look like a side that can last the distance. In beating Stoke city yesterday at the Emirates, we staked our claim that we can play our brand of football against any opposition and still come out on top. Arsenal are top of the table, even if its for only 24 hours! Next up is a trip to Everton in midweek. To another memorable week!! COYG!!

– Fair Play Gooner