#HenryMemories #LetsFootballWithHenry

You ask people who their favourite footballer is, and the usual names that come out of the hat are Messi, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zidane and the perennial Beckham. You ask me who my favourite footballer is. There’s only one name I will tell you. Thierry Henry. TH14. The King of Highbury. Arsenal Legend.

The official Twitter handle of the Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague), asked its fans to describe their favourite Thierry Henry moment. Come to think of it, this is a very tough ask. Cherry-picking one moment out of so many, is nearly an impossible task for me. I mean, this man has given me and my fellow Arsenal fans countless moments of magic. 228 goals, in 377 games. And each one a beaut.

Here are my 14 best Thierry #HenryMemories

Who can forget that magical night at the Bernabeu, when Henry strode past several Galacticos defenders? I remember watching that match, it was well past midnight, and I woke up the entire house.

A swivel and turn against Chelsea left the Blues with really no chance at all.

Or when he fooled a bunch of Liverpool defenders to score a beauty against Liverpool, when at one point it seemed like the title was slipping away from us.

Do you remember that time when Denis Irwin didn’t realise that a wily Frenchman had bamboozled him?

How about when the best goalkeeper in the world, Gianluigi Buffon stood absolutely no chance?

Remember when he made the Tottenham fans cry and got himself a statue of that moment? Oh my word, what a goal that was!

You absolutely cannot cannot forget that cold night in Prague, when Thierry wrote himself into Arsenal books as their record goalscorer.

Javier Zannetti had no chance when Thierry was on fire in Milan. He scored a cracker when he ran the length of the pitch, beat the Argentine and slotted the ball home.

It all started on a balmy evening at Southampton’s old ground – The Dell.

That late late header at the Emirates against Manchester United. I screamed like there was no tomorrow. Henry doesn’t score too many headers, and when he does, it’s like this!

Electrifying, electrifying – These words still ring in my ears, for that goal against Leeds, back in 2004!

Remember that blazing shot against the rain and wind against Manchester City! That was simply majestic.

To cap it all off, he signed off from Highbury with a penalty kick and a kiss of the turf in front of the North Bank. The most iconic Thierry Henry moment.

You thought he was gone, and then he came back to score a goal in the most Thierry Henry style possible. Called for another unbelievable night of late night shouting πŸ˜€

So, there you go! My 14 favourite Thierry Henry moments for Arsenal!

Here’s a picture of me trying to be Thierry Henry, way back in 2009 at the Emirates Stadium πŸ˜€

Jai Arsenal πŸ™‚

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Posted by on October 22, 2016 in Best of the Best


Arsenal 2 Southampton 1 – Lucky Arsenal leave it late!

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Arsenal 2 (Koscielny 29, Cazorla 94 (pen)) – Southampton 1 (Cech 18 (O.G))

Man of the Match –Β Santi CazorlaΒ (Arsenal)

A lot happened at Arsenal Football Club over the past week, since that 3-1 win over Watford at Vicerage Road. With rumours making their rounds that Arsenal had blown their chance to sign German international defender Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia, after dilly-dallying over his price, the two clubs sat down and negotiated a price.Β Β£35 million later, and Arsenal had a world class centre back in their ranks.

That wasn’t all. With the fans crying for some firepower up front, the club fulfilled their wishes, by purchasingΒ Β£17 million striker Lucas Perez from Deportivo la Coruna. He may not be the Higuain or Lacazzette we all desired, but hey, he scored 17 goals and provided 8 assists, for what is, at best an average La Liga club. He definitely could do better with the likes of Cazorla, Ozil and Sanchez playing behind him.

The biggest news, however was the departure of Jack Wilshere on loan to Bournemouth. A move that raises a lot of questions. Has the club lost patience with his injuries and his promise of being the next big homegrown thing to come out of the club. Press reports say it was a move Wilshere requested, in order to gain first team football and build on his fitness, so he can cement his place at Arsenal in the long run. Makes sense, to some extent, considering Eddie Howe likes his teams playing free flowing football, and he will be away from the usual scrutiny he gets every week with Arsenal.

Coming to the match itself, the manager started both his new signings. Rob Holding made way for Shkodran Mustafi at the back, while Lucas Perez started up front, with Alexis on the bench, the manager keeping an eye on the big Champions League opener vs Paris Saint Germain. Elsewhere, Francis Coquelin returned to the starting lineup, with Granit Xhaka making way.

It was Southampton, who started brighter, with Jay Rodriguez heading just over the post. Arsenal were guilty of giving the ball away far too often. Mesut Ozil, still finding his feet this season, found himself unmarked in front of goal, before losing his footing. Nacho Monreal then fouled just outside the penalty box, in the 16th minute. Serbian international Dusan Tadic’s freekick struck the underside of the post, with Petr Cech completely beaten. It bounced off the back of the stopper and rolled over the line, as the visitors took a 1-0 lead.

A free-kick from Santi Cazorla was header over by Theo Walcott, before the Spaniard was booked for dissent. Dutch international Virgil van Dijk then had to clear the ball to safety from a Monreal effort. Seconds later, the Gunners were level, when from the resulting corner, Laurent Koscielny, celebrating his birthday, pulled off an overhead kick. Ridiculous stuff from a central defender. The goal changed the momentum into Arsenal’s hands, as the home side opened up.Β Cazorla played in a couple of wonderful cross field balls, before an Ozil effort from a Bellerin cross was blocked. Then, former Saint Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw his shot deflecting just over, as the first half came to a end at 1-1.

The wily Shane Long came on for Southampton in place of Jay Rodriguez, at half time. Arsenal had the first chance of the second half, as Ozil failed to control a Walcott pass inside the box. Lucas, who had had a quiet debut till that point, saw his shot blocked by Ryan Bertrand, having been set up by Ozil. Santi Cazorla had to be alert to break a dangerous Southampton counter, before Bellerin’s effort went just wide, as Arsenal probed Southampton in search of a second goal.

On 62 minutes, the manager bought on Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez in place of Lucas Perez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Shane Long then had a great chance to put the visitors ahead, but he squandered his chance, with only Cech left to beat. The dynamics up front seemed to have changed since the introduction of Giroud and Alexis. First, the Chilean saw his shot go just over the bar, from an Ozil layoff. Then, he combined with Giroud, only to see his effort being blocked this time round. At the other end, Shane Long could only head over from a free-kick.

On 75 minutes, Alex Iwobi came on for Theo Walcott. A mistake from van Dijk allowed Alexis to set up Cazorla, but the Spaniard by the slippery pitch at the Emirates, something even Giroud fell prey to. An effort from Monreal was deflected wide, as both sides looked to score the elusive winner. Shane Long missed another guilt edged chance at the other end, moments later.

A free-kick from Santi Cazorla floated in, but Giroud couldn’t make much of it, under close scrutiny from Southampton’s towering defensive pair of Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk. In the dying moments, when it seemed like points would be shared, a Cazorla cross caused chaos in Southampton’s area. First, Koscielny was bought down and Giroud was fouled, the referee awarding a penalty for the latter incident.

It seemed like Koscielny would need some treatment, and he was momentarily taken off the pitch. Southampton tried to ward off Cazorla’s concentration, as he stepped up to take the spot kick. It didn’t matter though, as the ball found the back of the net, in the 94th minute.

It was too little, too late for the visitors to score an equalising goal at this point in the match. A much needed 3 points, as Arsenal now travel to Paris for a daunting game against the all conquering PSG.

Jai Arsenal πŸ™‚


Things have been pretty quiet on the blog lately. In fact, very quiet. Last season, I barely struggled to put any timely articles up, and I will sincerely attempt to update more often.

While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter.Β @blazingcannons

And do like, theΒ Facebook pageΒ as well.

Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!

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Posted by on October 9, 2016 in 2016-2017, Match Reviews


Watford 1 Arsenal 3 – First half walkover overrides second half scare!

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Watford 1 (Pereyra 57) – Arsenal 3 (Cazorla 9 (pen), Sanchez 40, Ozil 46)Β 

Man of the Match –Β Alexis SanchezΒ (Arsenal)

With a quite boring Interlull weekend gone by, it was again time for some much needed Premier League action, as Arsenal made the short trip across London to play Watford. The Hornets, now managed by Walter Mazzari, have had a mixed start to the season themselves, drawing away at Southampton, before losing a hard fought game at home to Chelsea.

With no new signings imminent at the back, new signing Rob Holding kept his place in the centre of defence, alongside Laurent Koscielny. Elsewhere, the manager decided to start with Granit Xhaka in the centre of midfield, alongside Santi Cazorla, in place of Francis Coquelin; as Mesut Ozil started his first game of the season.

A quiet start preceded a 8th minute penalty in favour of the Gunners, when Nordin Amrabat barged into Alexis Sanchez in the penalty box, with his elbow. Santi Cazorla obliged with a neatly taken penalty, as former Spurs stopper Heurelho Gomes guessed wrong. Cazorla then saw his shot go across the goal, having been setup by Alexis. Walcott, who was on the other end, managed to get to the end of it in the nick of time, only to see it strike the knees of Gomes and out.

At the other end, Laurent Koscielny made it awkward for Petr Cech, with his attempted clearance threatening to go in. The Czech stopper, however, managed to palm it away. Watford enjoyed some possession as Arsenal were happy to allow the home side to play in front of them. Defender Christian Kabasele’s header went just wide. Moments later, Gomes pulled off two saves in quick succession, first when Ozil played in Alexis, and the Brazilian stopper used his feet to save; and then a shot from Ozil which he saved from his near post.

It didn’t matter though, as Arsenal were 2-0 up within minutes of that. Hector Bellerin played in Theo Walcott, whose cross was clumsily bundled over the line by Alexis Sanchez. Really doesn’t matter where they come from.

Granit Xhaka was impressive in the first half, putting in tackles and distributing the ball around with consummate ease. He set up Walcott, but Gomes managed to pull off another save. Xhaka, then created space for Alexis on the left, drawing defenders into him, and the Chilean crossed into the box, with Mesut Ozil heading home Arsenal’s third goal of the afternoon. The Gunners went into half time with a resounding 3-0 lead.

The second half was a completely different story though, as Watford appeared a transformed team. Record Argentine signing Roberto Pereyra replaced Algerian international AdleneΒ Guedioura, at half time. Arsenal got sight of goal early in the second half, when Walcott cut back a cross, but no one was on hand to meet it.

Dutch international Daaryl Janmaat came on for Kabesele in the 51st minute. A right wing cross from Bellerin was too quick for Alexis to catch, before in-form French midfielder Etienne Capoue saw his shot from distance being saved by Cech. Watford would soon pull one back, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was robbed off the ball. Arsenal failed to deal with a cross that came in and Pereyra netted home to make it 1-3.

Walcott, then spotted Gomes off the line, and attempted to chip him, but missed. Chamberlain repeated the trick and failed too, when he should ideally played in Alexis and Walcott who were in a better position to score. Matches like these can be decided by thing margins, and Chamberlain’s miss could have proved costly, had Watford’s effort, moments later gone in. A shot from distance was fluffed away by Cech, and Nigerian international Odion Ighalo couldn’t capitalise on the loose ball, as Cech grabbed the ball just in time.

Jack Wilshere and Mohomad Elneny came on for Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, on 70 minutes. Ighalo then attempted an overhead kick, but it went just inches over the bar, as the score remained at 1-3. An injury to Nacho Monreal, meant Kieran Gibbs came on to replace the Spaniard, as the manager looked to close the game. Watford bought on their wonderfully named new signing, Isaac Success, whose first involvement was a header from a corner, which was dealt with by the away side.

Xhaka’s international teammate, Valon Behrami, then screwed a shot wide from the edge of the box. Younes Kaboul was then robbed off the ball by Alexis, who too tried to chip Gomes, when he should have played in a better positioned Walcott. In the end, Arsenal made home with 3 points.

Finally, a first win of the season, and hopefully the season can kick on from here. Defensive and attacking reinforcements, hopefully to come in the next few days.

Jai Arsenal! πŸ™‚


Things have been pretty quiet on the blog lately. In fact, very quiet. Last season, I barely struggled to put any timely articles up, and I will sincerely attempt to update more often.

While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter.Β @blazingcannons

And do like, theΒ Facebook pageΒ as well.

Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!

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Posted by on October 8, 2016 in 2016-2017, Match Reviews


Leicester City 0 Arsenal 0 – Drab draw to open the account!


Leicester City 0-0 Arsenal

Man of the Match –Β Laurent KoscielnyΒ (Arsenal)

Arsenal’s stuttering start to Liverpool at the Emirates garnered a lot of negative attention to the club and manager. Travelling to the home of the champions, the following weekend was always going to be a tough task, even if Arsenal were the only side in the league to beat the Foxes home and away last season. Leicester had a losing start themselves, when they were beaten 2-1 at Hull City.

With Granit Xhaka and Rob Holding, the only signings in the summer, pressure has been increasingly growing on the manager to recruit some much needed firepower up front and cover at the back. With Laurent Koscielny available for selection, it was Callum Chambers, who looks set to go out on loan to newly promoted Middlesbrough, who had to sit on the bench for this one. With Mesut Ozil still being eased into action, the manager decided to start with the trio of Xhaka, Coquelin and Cazorla in midfield, with Alexis plying up front. The injury to Aaron Ramsey in the Liverpool loss meant England duo Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got a starting berth.

The defending champions could have gone to a fast start, when last season’s top scorer, Jamie Vardy, ran straight at Koscielny, earning the hosts a corner. Moments later, Cazorla’s shot deflected just wide. Leicester allowed Arsenal enough time on the ball, in the first half, choosing to hit on counters, a tactic that won them bucketloads of games last season.

Francis Coquelin picked up a yellow for a foul on Vardy, midway through the first half. On 25 minutes, a curling effort from Chamberlain flew just wide, while Alexis and Xhaka failed with efforts from distance. On 30 minutes, Arsenal almost had the first goal of the match, when a Cazorla free-kick nearly creeped it’s way in, only for Kasper Schmeichel to make an acrobatic save.

At the other end, the pace batteries of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy were causing little trouble to Arsenal, especially with the expert defending of Koscielny. On one occasion, Mahrez set up Vardy, who was thwarted by a diving Petr Cech. Koscielny then had to be aware to hoof the ball away from an approaching Danny Drinkwater. The home crowd tried to ruffle the feathers of Mark Clattenburg, crying for a penalty, but he was having none of it, as the half came to a close at 0-0.

Francis Coquelin was walking on very thin ice, early in the second half, when he hacked down Mahrez near the edge of the box, but he escaped punishment. Mahrez duly fired his free-kick over the post. The game increasingly looked like the first goal would win it, and both sides asked questions of each other. A Xhaka allowed Vardy a free run, but with Koscielny for close comfort, the England striker couldn’t score.

The manager bought on Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil, in place of Granit Xhaka and Santi Cazorla, to infuse some freshness in midfield, on 72 minutes. Ozil masterfully orchestrated an attack, but it ended with a goalless left-footed shot from Theo Walcott. Olivier Giroud, then came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Minutes later, Walcott was guilty of missing a great opportunity, when he should have really passed to Olivier Giroud, having been set up by Hector Bellerin. The last five minutes were frantic in the least. Schmeichel saved from Ozil, who was set up by by Alexis. Leicester’s genuine call for a penalty was turned down when Ahmed Musa was bought down by Bellerin in the box. Walcott then failed, rather miserably with a chip.

A Riyad Mahrez shot was then parried on to the post by Cech, before the last effort of the game fell to Drinkwater, whose freekick just ended up bouncing off Arsenal’s wall. Into the international break we go!

Jai Arsenal!


Things have been pretty quiet on the blog lately. In fact, very quiet. Last season, I barely struggled to put any timely articles up, and I will sincerely attempt to update more often.

While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter.Β @blazingcannons

And do like, theΒ Facebook pageΒ as well.

Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!

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Posted by on October 8, 2016 in 2016-2017, Match Reviews


Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4 – Bottled on Opening Day!

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Arsenal 3 (Walcott 31, Chamberlain 64, Chambers 75) – Liverpool 4 (Coutinho 45, Lallana 49, Coutinho 56, Mane 63)

Man of the Match –Β Phillipe CoutinhoΒ (Liverpool)

In the end, it was all too predictable. Another season opener, and more moans and groans from the Arsenal faithful, urging the club to splash some much needed cash. If last season reminded us what we lacked in our team, last evening was a reminder of how unprepared the squad looks ahead of what looks like the toughest Premier League season in recent history.

With Petr Cech our only signing last season, we ended up losing to a West Ham side on opening day last season. A West Ham side that had a 16 year old midfielder, Reece Oxford, debutant Dimitri Payet and Birmingham reject Mauro Zarate in their starting lineup. Even a late Alexis cameo wasn’t enough to salvage anything from a 2-0 loss. 3 years back, we lost at home to Aston Villa, after going down to 10 men.

The age old argument that our first day performances are affected by the activity in the summer, in this case the Euro’s, Copa America etc. But, that is true for all teams, and not only Arsenal. Add to that, our injury concerns. With Danny Welbeck out for a good part of the year, Olivier Giroud still recuperating from the Euro’s, Theo Walcott being a bit poo, and our only strikers being rookies Yaya Sanogo and Chuba Akpom, it cries in desperation for the signing of a striker. And our pursuits of Messrs Vardy, Lacazette and Higuain indicated that we were going to patch up that hole. But, instead we play Alexis Sanchez out of position as a striker on the opening weekend. A player who loves hogging the ball, in a position where he is now expected to latch on to anything from midfield and win headers against a tall centre back partnership of Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan.

Per Mertesacker injured himself in a pre-season game against Lens, and Gabriel recently in a pre-season win against Manchester City at Gothenburg. Yet, we only had two Under-21 England defenders in Callum Chambers and Rob Holding, playing in central defence against a skilful attack that boasted names such as Coutinho, Firmino andΒ Β£34 million acquisition from Southampton, Sadio Mane. Quite baffling was the inclusion of Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi in the squad. You would have though the manager would have started instead with Santi Cazorla, who has had a full pre-season, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has been our best player in pre-season.

What is sad is that the deficiencies are there for everyone to see, yet no one seems to be take retrospective action in order to fix those issues, which are plaguing the team. Yes, we have a deep squad. But, quite clearly, we were short on Day 1, a day when you need to put a marker on your ambitions for the season.

To the game, then. Arsene Wenger opted to start with Rob Holding and Callum Chambers in defence. Ideally, a partnership of Holding/Chambers and Monreal, with Kieran Gibbs at left back would have made more sense. In midfield, Francis Coquelin started alongside Mohamed Elneny. Arsenal made the brighter start, on a sunny evening at the Emirates, zipping the ball around in confidence, against a Liverpool side that were happy to allow the Gunners to play in front of them.

Aaron Ramsey had the first attempt on goal, after combining with Alexis Sanchez, but his effort went straight at Belgian keeper Simon Mignolet. Nathaniel Clyne, then dragged an effort straight into the safe palms of Petr Cech. Ramsey had another go from way out, when he spotted Mignolet off the line, but it was wayward in the least; when instead he could have played in Walcott who would have been in an one-on-one situation.

Roberto Firmino, sporting a ponytail, had a shot from distance, before Adam Lallana was booked for a challenge on Ramsey. Minutes later, Arsenal were awarded a penalty when Spanish left back Alberto Moreno bought down Theo Walcott in the box. The England striker/right winger stepped up to take the penalty, but it was easily palmed away by Mignolet, much to the groan of Gooners all around the globe, including me. With abuses being hurled in from all over, Walcott made up for his earlier miss, as he was played in by Alex Iwobi, after Francis Coquelin robbed Lallana of the ball. He created a bit of space, evaded his marker Moreno and finished past Mignolet at the far post. It was 1-0 on 31 minutes, and Arsenal were in the ascendancy.

Liverpool saw a bit more of the ball after Walcott’s goal, and after a string of passes, Firmino could only pull an effort wide. A mistake from Chambers could have proven costly, but Georgio Wijnaldum’s effort was tame. Lovren then picked up a yellow for a foul on Alexis, and the Chilean’s effort was wide from the resulting free kick. Callum Chambers then saw his header from a corner go wide as well.

When it seemed like the Gunners would go in to the dressing rooms at half-time, with a 1-0 lead, a free-kick was awarded to Liverpool just outside the box, after Holding was harshly adjudged to have fouled some Liverpool bloke. Coutinho stepped up and found the top corner with aplomb. It was a thing of beauty, and things were back on level terms. By the passage of play, Arsenal deserved the lead at the break.

The second half began badly for Arsenal, as Wijnaldum was released into Arsenal’s penalty area, and he spotted the run of Lallana, who calmly chested the ball and put the ball into the back of the net. It was 2-1 to Liverpool. The visiting side then took complete control of the game, and put in a string of passes, which culminated in a Clyne cross from the right, side-footed in by Coutinho to make it 3-1 to Liverpool.

The home side and supporters seemed shocked at what they had just seen. But, there was still more to come from a rampant Liverpool. Another cross came in from the right, and Cech was in the right place to save from what would have been a tap-in from Firminho. Adam Lallana couldn’t take advantage of the loose ball. However, in a matter of minutes, Saido Mane bamboozled three fourth’s of Arsenal’s defence, to release a left-footed screamer past Cech on 63 minutes. 4-1 to Liverpool.

Arsenal managed to pull one back, though; when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, on for the injured Iwobi cut between to Liverpool defenders to put one past Mignolet on the near post. It was a fine goal. Santi Cazorla, also on for Aaron Ramsey tried to infuse some creativity and urgency into the team, and new signing Granit Xhaka also got a chance to strut around, when he came in for Elneny on 66 minutes. Emre Can came in for Coutinho in the 70th minute. An effort from Cazorla went over, before the Spaniard’s free kick was deflected in by Callum Chambers to make it 3-4 on 75 minutes.

It seems like Arsenal would complete an improbable comeback, but Liverpool looked organized and allowed little in terms of space, despite playing the error prone Alberto Moreno. Jurgen Klopp threw on Belgian striker Divock Origi in place of Lallana to create an attacking outlet in the 76th minute. Arsenal huffed and puffed, with Liverpool closing most of the attacks down.

When Arsenal did manage to put in a good move together, Theo Walcott tripped and fell over the ball, having been in a good position in between two defenders. Another late move collapsed when Santi Cazorla’s pass/cross struck Nacho Monreal to go for a goalkick. All in all, it was a poor start to a season, where expectations seem to be pretty low. A clear indication of lack of preparedness in terms of the squad as well as fitness and match-readiness was on display.

But, what a result for Liverpool. An opening day win at a ground of a rival, scoring 4 goals, including 2 for star man Coutinho. It’s back to the drawing board for Arsene Wenger and Co., as they face a daunting trip to champions Leicester next weekend, who are also smarting from an opening day loss to Hull.

Jai Arsenal!


Things have been pretty quiet on the blog lately. In fact, very quiet. Last season, I barely struggled to put any timely articles up, and I will sincerely attempt to update more often.

While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter.Β @blazingcannons

And do like, theΒ Facebook pageΒ as well.

Go ahead you lazy bum, that’s all I ask of you!

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 15, 2016 in 2016-2017, Match Reviews


The season is upon us!

I won’t be lying. It’s been hard, the last 3 months. While personally, I was switching jobs; the lack of club football made me jittery. Yes, there were the Euro’s to keep us going, and then there was the Indian indoor league, Premier Futsal, and the Olympics. But, nothing matches the Premier League. Period.

To add to it, being an Arsenal fan during the off season is an even more torturous position to endure. This time, it was no different. While you have to deal with the incessant bullshit of the English press and their linking us to every professional footballer walking on the planet, there was also the frustration of the club missing out on signing real prospects, due to underbidding.

While the news of Arsenal looking to sign Jamie Vardy sounded ridiculous, when it emerged it was actually true, you would expect a club of Arsenal’s stature to go ahead and complete the signing. No, there was a saga of dilly-dallying between the two clubs; Leicester looking to hold on to their top scorer and Arsenal not budging above their bid ofΒ Β£20 million (which was the initial release clause of the player anyway). The player in question was in France, with the national team, and decided to take a decision only once the tournament was done. England being England, were knocked out after the group stages itself; and as expected, Vardy turned down Arsenal’s offer, opting to stay with Leicester.

Arsenal have been perennially linked to Gonzalo Higuain, and when the transfer window opened, the Argentine was inevitably drawn into the tornado of Arsenal rumors. We know, how it all went, Italian champions snapping up the striker for Β£75 million. And more recently, the Gunners have been linked to France and Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette. To be honest, I haven’t seen much of this guy, but hey, we need a striker better than some of the ones we have. And surely, anyone would be an upgrade to Sanogo and Walcott. Arsenal’s bid of Β£29.3 million was rejected by Lyon, and now Lyon have quoted Β£60 million. Definitely, out of the question.

It wasn’t all gloomy of course. We completed the signing of Swiss defensive midfielder Granit Xhaka, from Borussia Moenchengladbach (I hope I’ve spelt that one right!) for Β£35 million. He put on some tidy performances at the Euro’s, and seems like a guy who will add some much needed bite to our midfield. Relying on Francis Coquelin being fit throughout a gruelling English season is too much to ask for. The departures of Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini meant we needed some freshness in midfield as well.

Apart from that, we only managed to sign an unheralded centre-back from Bolton Wanderers, a club that got relegated to League One. Rob Holding comes in at a reported fee ofΒ Β£2 million, and the young English defender made 26 appearances last season. He is still raw, and along with Callum Chambers could be the future of Arsenal’s defence. With Per Mertesacker suffering an injury in pre-season, it looked like a good signing. But then, Gabriel too suffered an injury in the pre-season win over Manchester City. This means that the possibility of Holding and Chambers starting against Liverpool tomorrow looks real. As we speak, Arsenal are apparently scampering for the signature of Valencia’s German defender Shkodran Mustafi, once an Everton reject.

There was also the Riyad Mahrez saga, with Arsenal apparently hot on the heels of the Algerian winger, also the current PFA Player of the Year. With Leicester keen to hold on to their star man, and Claudio Ranieri adamant about not letting him go, it all seems to have quietened down a bit. According to me, he would have been a terrific addition to the squad, on the right; where players such as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have miserably failed. Last season, the manager played Aaron Ramsey, Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell all on the right, and none of them seemed to have sufficiently impressed the manager. A attacking midfield of Ozil, Sanchez and Mahrez would have been mouth watering. But, Alas.

I don’t mean to sound all negative, but it seems like we have again been left behind in the transfer market. With Arsene Wenger saying the same things about signing only ‘top, top’ players and then underbidding for those very players, it all seems like a vicious circle. Ivan Gazidis’ recent statementΒ about not really having to spend to stay competitive, and that the club not being able to afford costly mistakes just adds fuel to the fire.

Looking over our shoulder, most other clubs have done the business they wanted to do. Sp*rs started with the low key signing of Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama forΒ Β£11 million from Southampton. Leicester’s trio of Vardy, Mahrez and Kante were always going to be in the spotlight; and Chelsea, under new Italian manager Antonio Conte did well to prise away N’Golo Kante, the unsung hero of Leicester’s season forΒ Β£32 million. They also landed young Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi from Marseille forΒ Β£33 million. Liverpool quietly got about their business, just the way Jurgen Kloop operates. Saido Mane arrived from Southampton forΒ Β£34 million, and Giorgio Wijnaldum from NewcastleΒ forΒ Β£25 million. They also signed two goalkeepers, Loris Karius from Mainz and Alex Manninger (remember him?).

The biggest stories of the transfer revolved around the Manchester clubs. Pep Guardiola was announced as Manchester City’s manager, as early as January. Manchester United had to do something about it, and retaining Louis van Gaal was definitely not an option. Hours after winning the FA Cup, the Dutch manager was shown the pink slip, with the arrogant twat Jose Mourinho, linked to the job at Manchester United for so many seasons, being appointed as the new gaffer. Guardiola signed Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund forΒ Β£20 million, Spain winger Nolito from Celta Vigo forΒ Β£13.4 million, German winger Leroy Sane from Schalke forΒ Β£37 million, Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus from Palmeiras forΒ Β£27 million and Everton defender John Stones for a whoppingΒ Β£47.5 million.

Staying with inflated markets, Manchester United paid a whoppingΒ Β£89 million for a player whom they had sold just 3 years earlier for a paltryΒ Β£1.5 million. The much heralded transfer of French midfielder Paul Pogba, also coincided with the signing of super Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Armenian winger Henrikh Mkhitariyan from Dortmund for what can be defined as a meagreΒ Β£26 million and Ivorian defender Eric Bailly for Β£30 million from Villarreal. Manchester United moved from being a 5th placed team to genuine title contenders within the space of 3 months.

It seems like other clubs have managed to get the business they wanted done, while we have clearly struggled with that. Identifying players is one thing, but actually going all out to sign those players, who can fill holes in your squad, is another. With the season a day way, you can’t help but think we are going to start with two makeshift central defenders, a rag-tag midfield and Theo Walcott up front. Yeah, not a pretty picture.

But, this post is not about negativity. However bad our prospects look, it is the start of the season. And starts should always be positive. To be honest, our squad looks really good on paper, and it is all about translating that into results on the pitch. Last season was a real downer, considering we were top till one point, had a bad patch, seemed like we would come back, but then our title challenge completely fizzled out. Sp*rs did provide some comedy relief on the final day, but honestly, it was a chance thrown away. With the traditional top guns failing to show up, and Leicester leading the way, we really should have mounted a proper title challenge.

Nonetheless, a midfield of Xhaka, Coquelin, Elneny, Cazorla, Ramsey, Campbell, Ozil, Sanchez, Wilshere, Iwobi, Chamberlain looks formidable. Defensively, we will miss Mertesacker for the rest of the year and Gabriel for about 2 months. If Spaniards Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin can keep up their high standards from last season, we can expect a solid season defensively. Laurent Koscielny is about a week away from returning to first team action, due to his exertions in Europe. On the flanks, we have Debuchy and Gibbs as cover, while Jenkinson nurses his injury. Chambers and Holding look like they’ll pair up for a few League Cup games.

Our problems, however lie up front. Olivier Giroud is a 20 goals a season striker, but across all competitions. His 24 goal tally last season was good, but he fizzled out in an extremely important period of the season, which also coincided with our slump. Theo Walcott has never convinced me, or Arsenal fans, or anyone for that matter that he can lead the line for a top club. His consistent inconsistency has often drawn calls from Gooners to sell him while we can actually get some money for him. It looks like he will lead the line till Giroud is declared match fit. Danny Welbeck showed glimpses of what he can do last season, before joining the long list of injuries. Apart from that, we have Chuba Akpom and Yaya Sanogo as our only fit strikers.

I have stood by Arsene Wenger through the barren years between 2005 and 2014 and will continue to do so. I have admired his views on football, pragmatism, his transfer dealings and in general the way he goes about his work; and will probably sing his praises decades from now. With him entering his final year on his current contract, it seems highly unlikely that he will be renewing it, whether or not we add something to the honours board. If that is the case, we’re probably looking at the 21st and final season of the long-serving Frenchman. 21 years of hard work, dedication towards a club, day in and day out.

In his own words, he says he is addicted to the club, and admits he is scared of ‘leaving’ something that has been part of his fabric for over two decades. For him, I hope the players deliver on the pitch and repay the manager’s faith.

The season promises to be yet another roller coaster ride, with teams signing exciting new managers and players. It looks it could be one of the closely contested seasons in recent times. Arsenal under Wenger, Chelsea under Conte, defending champions Leicester under Ranieri, Liverpool under Klopp, Manchester City under Guardiola, Manchester United under Mourinho, Sp*rs under Pochettino and West Ham under Bilic. Have you seen a better managerial line up than this? Let the ride begin!

Jai Arsenal πŸ™‚


Things have been pretty quiet on the blog lately. In fact, very quiet. Last season, I barely struggled to put any timely articles up, and I will sincerely attempt to update more often.

While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter.Β @blazingcannons

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Posted by on August 13, 2016 in General


Arsenal 3 Dinamo Zagreb 0 – Quick Reviews Part 19

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Arsenal 3 (Ozil 29, Sanchez 33, 69) – Dinamo Zagreb 0

Man of the Match –Β Mesut OzilΒ (Arsenal)

Arsenal secured a much required win against Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb, to keep alive their hopes of qualifying to the next round of the Champions League. Mathieu Flamini started in midfield, in place of the injured Francis Coquelin, while Costa Rican Joel Campbell got a starting berth, in place of the injured duo of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Despite suffering a 5-1 mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich, Arsenal’s 2-0 win over the Bavarian giants gave them some hope of qualifying. They would now have to better Olympiakos’ 3-2 win at the Emirates, in the return game in Greece, in order to qualify. But, with the 3-0 win against Zagreb, they have given themselves a realistic chance.

Mesut Ozil headed the Gunners into the lead in the 29th minute to ease the nerves of the home side. 4 minutes later, Alexis Sanchez made it 2-0 and the win was sealed in the 69th minute, when Sanchez finished off a fine team move.

Jai Arsenal πŸ™‚


While you are about it, follow Blazing Cannons on twitter.Β @blazingcannons

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Posted by on March 1, 2016 in 2015-2016, Match Reviews

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