Thoughts on MUFC vs AFC + Arsenal Player Ratings from Epic victory at Old Trafford

Simply put, this is comfortably arsenal’s best performance of the season,at least it is for me,it even surpasses beating EPL holders Man City at the Etihad. This is the same team who has been our tormentor-in-chief for the better part of a decade(you have to go back eight and a half years since Adebayor converted a cesc fabregas assist to defeat them 1-nil), so to beat them in their own backyard,go on to wembley to play either Reading or bradford(preferably Reading),while still condemning the Manchester giant to a second consecutive season without a trophy is a dream come true. The cherry on the cake for me will be retaining the Cup.
The lads all put in superb display and I must confess it really baffled me to see Welbz start ahead of Giroud in CF,I know Le boss might start him cos its against Man Utd at OT, but I really thought he will be shunted to the wings instead for The Ox,but credit to the boss who is getting his mojo back at the right time.Scsczecny replaced Ospina while Monreal also replaced Gibbs from the line-up against QPR last time out. The Gibbs/Monreal problem is a nice one to have for Wenger I’d say,nevertheless he picked Monreal who for me was undoubtedly the MoTM on the day and it was his best performance in an Arsenal shirt till date,and if he continues with this rich vein of form, a spanish recall can’t be far away.
RATINGS
Szczecny- The Polish keeper really struggled with his distribution yesterday but wasn’t really troubled. Had no chance for the goal. 6.5
Bellerin- The spanish fullback got booked five minutes in, but he still put in a commendable shift. Justifiably starting ahead of Chambers who replaced him with about 20mins left. 6.5
BFG- The defense leader overcame a nervy start to do what he does best,kept it simple,passed well from back and cleared the ball when neccessary. 7
Koscielny- Misread the flight of the ball for Rooney’s goal but showed superb resilience to marshall the defence. Best CB alongside John terry in the EPL. 7
Monreal- Showed the composure of a great poacher to finish past De gea from that angle and even passed the Valencia/Di maria test honorably. Long may his form continue. 8.5 MoTM
Coquelin- This young man has overcome obscurity to become about the first name on the team sheet in midfield. That says it all for the frenchman bcos I don’t wanna run the risk of overhyping him just yet. He never stopped running, screening the back four and even the big fellaini would have been impressed. 8
Carzola- The spanish wizard has alongside sanchez been arsenal’s best two players this season. He got stuck in, created a lot of openings with his close control of the ball and ran the show in midfield unsurprisingly. 7.5
The Ox- For me,if all left backs in english top-flights were asked which right winger they wouldn’t want to play against on his day- it would be this guy. Simply unplayable as he can hug the bye-line or cut in as he did to perfection to provide a contender for the assist of the season for arsenal’s first goal on the night. Pulled his hamstrings unfortunately much to the relief of the man utd fans. 7.5
Ozil- The classy german had a quiet first half but he showed his class in the last quarter of the game
And on another day he could have grabbed a couple of assists. Not so lazy ehn? 7
Alexis- Mixed bag performance from the chilean superstar, never stopped running though and he was only denied a goal by “you know who”. Sure contender for PFA player of the year. 7
Welbeck- Welbz is a hardworker alright. He never stopped hustling all night and his goal is just a “small” reward for a nice day at the office. Nice celebration too 8

Subs
Ramsey- The flying welshman provided an extra body in midfield,and helped in defending the lead. 6.5
Chambers- The yound defender took off where bellerin stopped. Good to know we have someone like him who can step in and do a nice job. 6
Giroud- The france no-9 will be happy we qualified,otherwise he would have been disappointed if we did not as his almost a goal per game ratio this year warranted a start. Nicely weighted pass for that carzola chance though. 6
Wenger- Le boss got every decision right on the day. Starting welbeck,monreal and even The Ox over his more experienced compatriot Walcott were good decisions. Replacing bellerin who could have been red-carded also shows he’s getting back to his best. 8.5

Referee Michael Oliver- He really surprised me. He failed to punish man utd players especially Fellaini for blatant fouls but then showed maturity beyond his age/experience to book first di maria and then januzaj for diving. 4 in the 1st half, 9 in the 2nd half

There you have it. And don’t forget to have your say in the comment section. Sayonara

MY “ARSENAL END OF THE SEASON AWARDS” INCLUDING NOMINEES AND EVENTUAL WINNERS

WARNING: This is a continuation of the previous post.

GOAL OF THE YEAR
Nominees- Jack Wilshere against Norwich, Rosicky
against spuds(EPL),Ramsey against Norwich(return leg)
Winner: Jack wilshere against Norwich

I purposely chose these three goals not because of their significance,but what they represent. Wilshere’s goal capped off one of the greatest team goal in EPL history, rosicky’s goal brings to mind his and our hatred for sh**ty spuds, and Ramsey’s goal scored with a deft touch filled with such confidence and nonchalance really cements his status as one of the future great goal-scoring midfielders. After coming back from a lengthy lay-off,that goal showed us his earlier season form wasn’t a one-off.
But wilshere’s goal is the “Arsene-way”,and there’s a reason it was chosen as the goal of the season by the official website of the EPL.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Nominees÷ Kieran Gibbs, Wojciech Szczesny,Lucas Fabianski
Winner÷Wojciech szczesny

Strange isn’t it. You might have expected the likes of Ramsey,Merts and Koscielny to feature in this category,not me though because their improvements started when Steve Bould was appointed and the form they displayed after that 2-1 loss to spuds in the second half of the 2012/13 season was nothing short of a miraculous turnaround. The trio carried that form into 2013/14, with the only difference as far as Ramsey is concerned is obviously the goals,and well the assists,not his all-round game.
For me szczesny is the winner here,as many gooners where clamoring for a new No 1 gk to be signed, but the way he kept his cool and changed people’s mind is not only miraculous but also unbelievable. Winning the golden glove is the perfect cherry on the cake for the outspoken Polish No. 1.

BREAK-OUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Nominee(s)÷ Serge Gnabry
Winner÷ Serge Gnabry

I created this category for the young German,why,well because I can,and also because he deserves a worthy mention. He even got a mention from the German national team coach himself(Joachim Loew).Such was the form he displayed after Walcott got injured,and with TheOX also out. He was so composed and matured for one so young,and if injury didn’t rob him of that momentum,it could’ve been a different story. But next season beckons,and a future within the German national team setup alongside the likes of gotze and draxler.

FLOP OF THE SEASON
Nominees÷Nacho Monreal, Carl Jenkinson
Winner÷Nacho Monreal

Let me be clear about my definition of flops. These are players who fail to grab the chances they are given to prove themselves. So that will rule out the likes of bendtner,Viviano,Kallstrom and even Vermaelen from this category. Put simply these players weren’t given enough playing time to be judged effectively.
But someone like Jenkinson, a self proclaimed gunner, failing to step up to the quality of the club even when Sagna was injured amazes me. His worst day was certainly a carling cup tie at home to Chelsea when he put in a shocking display culminating in him nodding the ball back to szczesny,needless to say what happened after. Then there’s Monreal,the erstwhile deputy to Alba in the Spanish setup,bought from malaga to replace the often injured Gibbs,and what has he done: rubbish. I don’t mean to be too harsh, but these two aren’t arsenal quality.

To be continued.

MY “ARSENAL END OF THE SEASON AWARDS” INCLUDING NOMINEES AND EVENTUAL WINNERS

The 2013/14 season is done and dusted with Arsenal having a relatively successful season,having won the FA cup,coincidentally the last trophy we won exactly nine years ago.
Even though its belated,here are the various awards i’m going to be dishing out,and since these are my awards,i’ve decided to create several “not too conventional” categories. There are thirteen categories which I’m going to be dropping three at a time.

AFC PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Nominees: Ramsey, Koscielny, Mertesacker
Winner:Aaron Ramsey
The only deserving winner is our very own flying welshman. I can’t remember any other CM apart from Yaya Toure and Arturo Vidal out-scoring him from midfield (don’t even think of Gerrard),or having as much influence on games like the 23 years old. What more? Oops,a certain FA cup winning goal.

AFC YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Nominees: Sanogo, The OX, Serge Gnabry
Winner:The Ox
This season has not just been about the youngsters at AFC and since I don’t consider Jack Wilshere a youngster anymore(he has two kids),I’ve chosen the injury plagued chamberlain as the young player of the season,he’s just a complete midfielder,so strong and let’s not forget that outrageous burst of pace(his two goal against Crystal palace comes to mind). He’s surely going to develop into a top class player very soon. There is a reason he went to Brazil even though he was injured.

SIGNING OF THE SEASON
Nominees: Ozil,Flamini,Sanogo
Winner:Ozil
With the most miserly head-coach in football history, it came as a big surprise as Mezut “assistking” Ozil signed for Arsenal from Real Madrid for a whooping sum in excess of €50m. Unsurprisingly,Le Boss complemented this meteoric signing with two free frenchmen(cough).Ozil has not truly justified his hefty price tag on-field with a barely respectable 8 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for a player of his high standards, what he has done is lift the both the club and the fan’s hope of a better future. We can’t wait to see him in action next season.

To be continued……

THE CESC FABREGAS CONUNDRUM

Francesc Fabregas Soler has always divided opinion amongst football fans and pundits all his career,but none can certainly deny the outrageous talents he brings to the game.
He turned 27 last month,but with 88 caps and counting,having already represented Spain at 2006 Fifa World cup,EUFA Euro 2008,2010 Fifa World cup and EUFA Euro 2012,where Spain won the last three with him playing a crucial role in a squad that is arguably the greatest of all time, supplying the slide rule pass that allowed Andres Iniesta to score the winning goal at the last World cup final against Holland in S/Africa.
It could be argued that his club career has not been as “glittering”,with only a FA cup medal to show for his 8-year sojourn in English football with Arsenal,but it’s only just unfortunate that he represented a transitional side filled with young albeit talented team. Nevertheless, he won several individual awards,while been regarded as one of the best in the EPL every year between 2006 and 2011. Infact it is generally known amongst Arsenal followers that alongside the great Patrick Viera,he is Arsenal’s best central midfielder in recent memory. He became arsenal captain in November ’09 at just 21,to ward off interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona,having started his career with the latter. He later forced a move to barca ahead of the 2011/12 season after enduring six trophyless seasons with Arsenal,not to mention the massive pressure from “home”,with then Barca boss Pep Guardiola having already reserved the no 4 jersey for him.
The return of the prodigal son hasn’t been as smooth as expected,not from his lack of trying though,he joined a team that had won three la liga titles in a row,two of the last three Eufa CL trophies,one that featured the likes of Lionel Messi,Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez; he still ended that season with 15 goals and 20 assists in 48 appearances, winning four midfielder awards. Just this last campaign,he created a record by assisting five goals in a single match,a 7-0 rout of Levante.
At 27,the prestigious CL trophy is the only one missing in his CV and it’s safe to say he still has at least five more years at the top to try and achieve this dream,and with him dividing opinions amongst the barca faithfuls, labelled a “scape-goat” after a particularly barren season trophy-wise,even after a respectable 13 goals and 16 assists across 55 appearances,if FCB decides to sell him,there won’t be shortage of suitors,not when the likes of European giants Bayern,Man Utd and London clubs Chelsea and Arsenal have any say in the issue. The latter are said to have a buy-back clause somewhere in his contract,and it will be foolish if wenger doesn’t at least try to get him back,with his huge class and proven EPL quality,he will easily improve Arsenal’s midfield containing the likes of Ozil,Ramsey and Wilshere.
As for the Barca fans,it’s shameful to doubt a player who is not even at the peak of his career yet, but has already amassed 99 goals and 146 assists in 454 club games for Arsenal and Barcelona in the two best leagues in the world. Any CM will be jealous of these stats over the course of their whole careers. Like it or not “Magnificent Cesc” will go down as one of the legends of the game. Start believing.

FA CUP FINAL; PREFERRED STARTING ELEVEN AND MATCH PREDICTION

It’s d-day.. Arsene has never been under more pressure and he’s been the boss for seventeen years. On paper,it should be a routine victory over a Hull city team we defeated twice this year already with an aggregate score line of 5-0. But obviously,that will be forgotten when the match kicks off,as just last year Wigan defeated greater by far Man City.
Apart from long-term absentee Theo Walcott,The Ox remains the only arsenal player fighting a race against time to make the matchday squad,let alone be involved in today’s final. He really wants to be involved in this match,but he also knows he runs the risk of aggravating his injury,thereby jeopardizing his dream of representing England at the World Cup in June. I just hope he at least makes the bench as he’s the most explosive option we have.
The other big issue is who to start between the sticks and I say we start the older Polish GK who is responsible for getting us into the final in the first place.It surprises me why people are clamoring for szczesny,yes he just won the golden glove,but he has kosher and Merts to thank for that,as despite much promise earlier in the campaign,the more error-prone side of his game reared its ugly head during the 2nd half of the season,let’s face it he’s no Manuel Neuer. For me Fabianski deserves what is likely to be his last game for the club and if that itself is not motivation enough,then what is?.
The other change which I’ll want Le boss to make from the recent lineups is Jack wilshere in place of Lucas Podolski, and this is only mainly because of having a game changer on the bench to swing the match our way in case of any mishap. Moreover I think Hull city are one of those teams who just can’t cope with arsenal’s intricate passing game and Wilshere is better than Poldi in this aspect,he retains the ball better and links play more. My preferred starting line-up in Wenger’s 4-2-3-1 formation is:

Fabianski;Sagna,Mertesacker,Koscielny,Gibbs;Arteta,Ramsey;Wilshere,Ozil,Carzola;Giroud
Having the likes of Podolski and Rosicky on the bench will really stretch the Hull defence.
PREDICTION
For me,Hull has had a successful season by just qualifying for this final,the first in their history,but I believe Arsenal has too much quality in their squad to be really troubled by this Hull team that is lacking in serious firepower upfront with the likes of Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic being cup-tied. Arsenal fans will be looking forward to Mezut Ozil and Ramsey proving their World class credentials and winning this match for Arsenal,thereby ending our/Arsene’s infamous specialist in failure jibes.
Arsenal to win 4-1,with another man-of-the-match performance from the flying welshman Aaron Ramsey. COYG

MY EPL TEAM OF THE YEAR (4-2-3-1)

GK-JULIAN SPERONI
Much as been said of Tony Pulis’ miraculous Crystal palace revival,and I must say that he has the Argentine keeper to thank. Miraculous saves after saves makes me wonder why he isn’t in the national team setup.

RB-SEAMUS COLEMAN
The likes of Branislav Ivanovic,Bakary Sagna and Pablo Zabaleta have been brilliant this season,but Coleman has just been superb.His now trademark attacking forays upfront coupled with his ability to track back quickly makes him such a key player for Roberto Martinez.

CB-LAURENT KOSCIELNY
Picking this man ahead of “indomitable leader” Vincent Kompany is a hard choice but every defensive statistics shows he’s been the leading CB in the EPL’s top four this season.Alongside Mertesacker,arsenal conceded only Eleven goals at the Emirates.

CB-GARY CAHILL
The former Bolton captain can be proud of his contributions to the Chelsea cause this year,he’s been a beast in the meanest defense in the Epl this campaign.He will be hoping to cap off the season with a solid showing in Brazil next month.

LB-Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw will be taking Ashley cole’s place in the England World cup team.The young man deserves all the applause right now as he was consistent all season long.He’s still so young but he puts in matured displays every week.

CM-STEVEN GERRARD
Even though the midfield Maestro came agonizingly close once again to win the only silverware absent from his Wardrobe,slipping at the final hurdle,he still had one of his best campaigns and at 34 years,he remains one of the best midfielders in the world and one of the greatest footballers of his generation

CM-YAYA TOURE
Put simply,the man is a beast.He’s the most complete footballer on the planet at the moment,and has been the Key player in the double winning Man city squad.That sums up how highly I think of the guy

LWF-EDEN HADARD
The Belgian wizard can weave his way through any obstacle and he creates chance at an alarmingly high rate.He’s the World best dribbler right now,destined to shine at the World cup showpiece in Brazil

AMF-David Silva
The Spanish schemer is capable of unlocking any defence in the Epl.No one has as much close control and intelligence on the ball as he,and he’s simply majestic and a joy to watch

RWF-Raheem Sterling
He’s had a sterling season.The young winger is now odds-on to be a starter for England next month.This won’t surprise anybody because he’s the best winger in England presently

CF-Luis Suarez
This man is only behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego costa in European football this season and that is only because he missed out on champions league football.He lead both the scoring and assist chart in Epl this campaign.

SUBS:De Gea,Kompany,Baines,Ramsey,Llalana,Henderson,Sturridge.

There you have it.Please share your views and your own team in the comment section.