Why the Denis Suárez deal makes sense and why Barcelona can afford to lose him

Why the Denis Suárez deal makes sense and why Barcelona can afford to lose him

As Denis Suárez is now a Gunner for the rest of the season, it ends all the speculations that Arsenal won’t sign anyone in the January window. Even though it’s just a loan deal, it pleases both parties. Here’s why.

From Arsenal’s point of view

  1. Denis is happy to work with Emery. As Denis worked with Emery in Sevilla before, Arsenal now have two Europa League winners in their team, which will help to boost the confidence of the team in winning the UEL.
  2. Denis is the kind of player they want and need. What Arsenal need is not only someone who can play in both upfront and in midfield (like Özil) but also, a playmaker. Denis is the kind of player who can do all these stuff.
  3. If Denis doesn’t play well, he doesn’t have to be here. Arsenal can opt to activate the release clause of 20 million Euros to get him in the summer. But it’s not obligatory, so I’ll see it just a mere option on the contract.

From Barcelona’s point of view

  1. They get money from the deal, should Arsenal exercise their option to buy. Even if Barcelona don’t get the 20 million in July, Denis’ contract extension to 2021 will preserve his current market value.
  2. They would rather develop de Jong than on Denis. de Jong’s arrival will further reduce Denis’ playing time since it’ll be a total waste of money not to play the Dutchman, at least from Valverde’s perspective.
  3. Denis isn’t in Valverde’s plans, so it makes sense to offload him. Barcelona are crowded with talented midfielders like Arthur Melo, Carles Aleñá and Sergi Roberto. Even Aleñá got more chances than him.

From the player’s own point of view

Let’s be honest, if you were Denis, would you rather be a benchwarmer at Camp Nou or the main man somewhere else? For Suárez himself, he decided to opt for a return to England (he used to play for Manchester City before).

The final verdict 

Provided that Denis doesn’t get a lot of chances under Valverde and the confirmed transfer of Frenkie de Jong, I believe that there’s a high chance that the player will sign a permanent deal with the north London club.
Unless there is something bad happen to Arsenal (or Emery), it would be the best for Denis to be a Gunner in the next season. But of course, like Alcácer’s case, it all depends on what Denis will do in the future.
It can’t be certain for now.

The North London Derby – An old affair of a new fashion

The North London Derby – An old affair of a new fashion

Arsène Wenger may not have noticed that at Wembley, he played the last North London derby with his beloved Arsenal this February. And the score wasn’t in his favour as Harry Kane scored the winning goal.

Now, in place of Wenger, an energetic, young Spaniard called Unai Emery will be standing on the touchline of the Emirates to gesture to his players and scream at them like a kid when they don’t play well.

Admit it, Arsenal are still the same old club but with a brand-new look. On the other hand, there isn’t much change in the squad (and stadium) for Tottenham. Not to mention that Pochettino is still here.

This is why the North London derby is a rejuvenated duel between both Spanish speaking coaches and their men. Whoever wins doesn’t matter because when they meet each other again, it’ll be a more tense affair than ever.

It’s the dress rehearsal for the Carabao Cup semi-final for both sides.

If the Gunners win the match, not only they can declare that “London is red” but also, laugh at their fierce rivals of “not being able to in a cup final”. On the other hand, Tottenham will want to make history at Holloway. Not just a derby for both sides.

You’re in the right place for our analysis of the match of the century, with the details of the match itself, records last year and most importantly, score predictions by our team.

Details of the match

Teams: Arsenal FC vs Tottenham Hotspur FC

Kick-off time: 2 December 2018, 1730 BST

Ground: Emirates Stadium, London, UK

Kits: Home (red and white by Puma) vs Home (white and blue by Nike)

Referee: Mike Dean

Injury list: Koscielny, Lacazette, Lichtsteiner, Mavropanos, Monreal, Welbeck (Arsenal), Janssen, M. Dembélé (Tottenham)

Form of both clubs

Arsenal (DDDWW)

  1. 1-1 home draw against Liverpool in the Premier League (Lacazette; Milner)
  2. 0-0 home draw against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League
  3. 1-1 home draw against Wolves in the Premier League (Mkhitaryan; Cavaleiro)
  4. 2-1 away win against Bournemouth in the Premier League (King; Lerma OG, Aubameyang)
  5. 3-0 away win against Vorskla in the Europa League (Smith-Rowe, Ramsey PEN, J. Willock)

Tottenham (WWWWW)

  1. 3-2 away win against Wovles in the Premier League (Neves PEN, Jiménez PEN; Lamela, Moura, Kane)
  2. 2-1 home win against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions Legue (Kane x2; de Jong)
  3. 1-0 away win against Crystal Palace in the Premier League (Foyth)
  4. 3-1 home win against Chelsea in the Premier League (Alli, Kane, Son; Giroud)
  5. 1-0 home win against Inter Milan in the Champions League (Eriksen)

Score predictions and analysis: 

  1. “Despite Arsenal have the home advantage, it’s Tottenham they’re playing and the Gunners haven’t been playing well against the Top 6 sides this season. It’ll be of no surprise for me if it ends in a draw or a win for the travelling party. Plus, Leno won’t keep a clean sheet. Let’s not talk about the referee, who’s a supporter of the visitors. 2-1 Tottenham” (Alf)
  2. “This is going to be a hell of a match. Both sides are coming off a win, with Spurs three points and two places higher. Arsenal have begun to falter, but I still see this being an entertaining, and high-scoring, draw. 2-2 draw” (Oliver)
  3. “I just can’t choose. Both teams are looking very fine right now, and I can only see them both getting frustrated when the points are shared. 1-1 draw” (Dan)

As always, “no score should be treated as certain before the final whistle is blown”. Also, here’s a friendly reminder for all of you: gamble wisely if you really want to place bets on football matches, or you’ll be in deep regret later.

5 things noticed in Arsenal’s 10 game winning streak

5 things noticed in Arsenal’s 10 game winning streak

As an Arsenal fan myself, I expected my favourite club to struggle under the first year with Unai Emery, who became Arsène Wenger’s successor.

In spite of the first two defeats in the Premier League, they’re in, currently, a 10 game winning streak, which is impressive. Here are some points I’d like to take note of during these games. Continue reading “5 things noticed in Arsenal’s 10 game winning streak”

Granit Xhaka – a curse or a blessing for Arsenal?

Granit Xhaka – a curse or a blessing for Arsenal?

As an Arsenal fan who started supporting the club from 2016, the first transfer which caught my attention was none other than Granit Xhaka, who joined the Gunners from Möchengladbach.

To date, there have been mixed opinions of the Swiss midfielder. And when people ask me “what do you think of Xhaka?”, it always gives me a headache as I’m in a “love-hate” relationship with it.

The good thing is that Xhaka is good at long-range shots, which is a trick capable of surprising the opponents. He did it against Hull, Nottingham Forest, Manchester United, Liverpool and AC Milan. It seems that he can take free-kicks too after he proved his worth in the Newcastle game, I think.

Xhaka is also an adaptative player who has solidified his place in the starting XI, no matter if he’s under Wenger or Emery. Moreover, proved at Gladbach, he’s a leader in the dressing room and is named as one of the captains of the Arsenal squad.

Despite the virtues mentioned, Xhaka is inconsistent and sometimes gives the ball away to the opponents. Moreover, he’s awful at defending and tends to commit fouls, resulting in cards or even suspensions. His discipline has been improving but he himself would need to be aware of that.

To sum up, Xhaka is okay in passing and creating spaces, reasonable in taking corners and long-range efforts, yet a horrible leader in defending. This is what makes him such a special player.

Here’s another important question, “provided the performance of the player, should Arsenal sell Xhaka for cash, or at least, loan him to another club for more experience?”

While a number of Arsenal supporters may say “show him the door, he’s still s**t after two f***ing years with us”, for me, it’s a dilemma, especially when you understand the bigger picture.

Yes, I agree that cashing in the Swiss can help the Gunners to fund for getting better players. If Xhaka’s departure can pave way for a reliable player in midfield, I’ll agree on the idea.

However, while he’s not the solution to the midfield problem of the team (this is the main reason why I miss Cazorla, who used to be the “little wizard” in the squad), selling him may worsen it instead.

The reason? He can score a long-range equaliser, take a free-kick to extend the lead or assist the winning goal of a comeback. You’ll never know when will the Swiss help to save Emery’s job.

The unpredictability of the sport (and Xhaka’s fitness) is what makes the situation awful to deal with.

I myself would prefer not selling him, but the rest of the Gooner crowd may say otherwise. Let me know in the comments if you have something to say.

An XI of French-born footballers playing for other countries

An XI of French-born footballers playing for other countries

In the wake of the 2018 World Cup, many people were speculating on the origins and background of the French team. It’s hard to blame them – after all, the side doesn’t exactly look like twenty-three randomly selected French lads. The point made by many was that France’s victory was a victory for Africa too, since they contributed so much to the team. This, of course, was controversial and led to people from all walks of life weighing in with their opinion.

Instead of talking about that, however, I think there’s an important point to be made in the reverse. As opposed to looking at perceived foreigners in the French set-up, we’re going to look at French-born players with other international sides. It’s a better side than you might expect so let’s jump straight in.

In goal, we’ve got Anthony Lopes of Portugal.

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Anthony Lopes is in between the sticks for our side. The Portuguese shot-stopper was born near Lyon and came through Les Gones’ academy before making his debut for the club in 2012. Still at Olympique after six years in the first team and eighteen at the club, Lopes was Rui Patricio’s backup for the 2016 European Championships which Portugal won.

Our fullbacks are Raphaël Guerreiro and Faouzi Ghoulam.

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Guerreiro is one of world football’s underappreciated talents. Born in northern Paris, Guerreiro is half-Portuguese and used this to his advantage, becoming an important player in Portugal’s Euro win in 2016 and being nominated for Young Player of the Tournament. He’s also had a successful club career with Stade Malherbe Caen, Lorient and Borussia Dortmund and was in the Champions League Breakthrough XI in 2016.

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Faouzi Ghoulam, meanwhile, plays his international football for Algeria. The left-back has 35 caps for his country at the age of 27, and went to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. In terms of his club career, Ghoulam has been at Napoli since his move from boyhood club Saint-Etienne four years ago and has been solid at the back there, being linked with just about every English club at some point.

In the middle of defence, we’ve got Kalidou Koulibaly and Medhi Benatia.

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Ghoulam’s Napoli teammate Kalidou Koulibaly is also French-born, hailing from the north-east. He spent his formative years at Metz before a 2012 move to Genk in Belgium and a switch to Napoli two years later. Koulibaly went to Russia for this year’s World Cup and has twenty-eight caps for Senegal in four years. Oh, and Chelsea may or may not be interested in him.

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Medhi Benatia is the most experienced player on our team so far with time at two of Europe’s biggest clubs and four consecutive league titles under his belt. Hailing from Courcouronnes in southern Paris, Benatia joined the academies of Guingamp and then Marseille before graduating into the first team. Time at Clermont, Udinese and Roma followed, before moves to Bayern Munich and then Juventus. Internationally, Benatia has fifty-five games for Morocco.

Running the show in the middle of midfield, it’s Adrien Silva and Geoffrey Kondogbia.

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The final member of our Portuguese delegation, Silva is in the same boat as Guerreiro – although unlike Guerreiro, Silva’s famly returned to Portugal when he was eleven and therefore he went through Sporting’s academy. Silva was loyal to the Verde e Brancos for fifteen years total, before his move to England and Leicester City. He also played a role in Portugal’s Euro triumph and went to the World Cup in 2018.

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OK, so Kondogbia has played for France before, but he’s switched his international allegiance away so he’s all good for this list. Kondogbia is from Nemours, forty kilometres south of Paris, and played for Lens in his youth. Moves to Sevilla, Monaco, Internazionale and then Valencia followed. Kondogbia has also played five friendlies for France, but has changed his allegiance to the Central African Republic (a republic in the central bit of Africa).

Out wide, there are Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi.

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It’s easy to forget that Riyad Mahrez is just twenty-seven years of age, what with the frankly ridiculous career he’s had. He never joined an elite academy, instead playing for Quimper in the fourth tier before moving to Le Havre, and then Leicester City where he won the league title and the Premier League Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards. Earlier this year he transferred to Manchester City. Internationally, Mahrez has represented Algeria at the 2014 World Cup and has almost forty caps. Oh, and he came seventh in the Ballon d’Or 2016.

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Porto winger Yacine Brahimi is our other French Algerian. Originally from Paris, Brahimi joined the PSG academy in 2004 before moving to Stade Rennais, making his debut in 2009. Transfers to Granada and then Portuguese giants Porto followed, and he’s been linked with English teams including Liverpool and Everton. He also has thirty-nine caps for his country and represented them at the 2014 World Cup.

And our attacking partnership are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gonzalo Higuain.

Image result for pierre emerick aubameyang gabon

Aubameyang is Gabon’s captain but was born and raised in France, and lived there until his 2007 move to Milan’s academy. The striker stayed at the Italian club until 2011 when he moved back to France with Saint-Etienne, and in 2013 he joined German side Borussia Dortmund, winning the Bundesliga top scorer award in 2017. In 2018, Arsenal signed Aubameyang for £56m. Internationally, he’s only the top scorer of all time for his country of Gabon.

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Yep, you read that right. Higuain was born in France as his father was playing for a French team, Stade Brestois 29, at the time of his birth. It didn’t take long for him to leave – he spent his first birthday in Argentina – and to this day he’s never played for a French club, being the only player on this list (apart from Silva) not to have done so. Internationally Higuain’s not done badly – three international silver medals is pretty neat – but you have to think he would have taken a World Cup with France if he had the opportunity.

And there you have it, folks. Yes, I know about Toko Ekambi, or Ayew, or Harit, Bolasie, Bentaleb, whoever. This wasn’t an easy list to make.

Images: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/ff/35/f9/ff35f9139a1bd408dbb1a1a4384b8c8f.jpghttps://images.performgroup.com/di/library/omnisport/65/2a/raphael-guerreiro-cropped_sadu505de4pd1mdlndofl947y.jpg?t=739525917&quality=90&w=1280https://images.performgroup.com/di/library/GOAL/cc/8c/faouzi-ghoulam-napoli-2017_gj5wx209dmyd1eqxwjp7qo58f.jpg?t=650110520&quality=100https://images.performgroup.com/di/library/GOAL/16/a3/kalidou-koulibaly-napoli_1acj84171g6z51mvgp0icf0o7j.jpg?t=-1708635135https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Moroccan-footballer-Mehdi-Benatia.jpghttps://images.performgroup.com/di/library/GOAL/26/be/adrien-silva-leicester_vzgrt5wqqim21pfw8wzhsp6v2.jpg?t=967334994&quality=100http://www.squawka.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/GettyImages-689471078.jpghttps://premierleague-static-files.s3.amazonaws.com/premierleague/photo/2018/07/13/c3294e0c-20b3-4239-9af8-c63380ea47fb/TF_18188.jpghttps://e2.365dm.com/18/08/768×432/skysports-yacine-brahimi-porto_4381191.jpg?20180805110346https://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/67/590x/Aubameyang-934607.jpghttps://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/c_scale,w_912,h_516,c_fill,g_auto/shape/cover/sport/fbl-friendly-esp-ita-real-madrid-milan-5b7159dbc445672401000001.jpg

“How much you wanna risk?” – An overview of Arsenal’s missing pieces of the transfer puzzle

“How much you wanna risk?” – An overview of Arsenal’s missing pieces of the transfer puzzle

Frankly speaking, despite the fact that Emery did bring quality players (e.g. Leno, Sokratis, Torreira) to the Emirates, as an Arsenal fan, I’d say, the club’s transfer business is all but a work in progress.

The Spaniard basically solved the goalkeeping problem and helped to clear the “dead woods” of the squad, yet it was not enough. To become a potential title contender again, there is still stuff which needs to get done and positions to be filled in.

  1. The centre-back position. Sokratis is okay but still needs time to improve. Mustafi can score goals but his defending skills are awful. Koscielny is currently injured. The crisis requires an immediate solution to end it.
  2. The winger position. Aubameyang is an experienced and versatile forward, yet he’s ageing like Mkhitaryan. Ramsey and Özil can feature as wingers, which isn’t their natural positions. A young attacker should be sought for bolstering their offence.
  3. The midfield position. Xhaka is consistent in being awful these days with Ramsey rumoured to depart from the Gunners squad. Guendouzi is yet to be a mature CM. A solid midfielder like Patrick Vieira in the past is needed.
  4. The playmaker position. Mkhitaryan is okay but with Özil sometimes disappear in big games, I’m surprised that no one’s mentioning that Arsenal would need someone like Santi Cazorla, who made things easier when he’s present.
  5. The left-back position. Monreal is a solid LB but he’s ageing. Kolašinac is an “up to standard” player but sadly, is injury-prone. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is an adaptable player who plays better in midfield. Another headache for Emery.

So what are the possible options to be explored by the Arsenal transfer department? In my opinion, they are, but not limited to:

  1. Jamaal Lascelles. The captain of Newcastle United is both a solid defender and a leader in the dressing room, which is something missing in the Arsenal XI. They can also consider promoting Julio Pleguezuelo, another player who shines under club legend Freddie Ljungberg’s guidance.
  2. While someone like Ousmane Dembélé or Neymar Jr. (in your dreams, Alf) is a good choice, it may be seen as “pricey”. Giving the youngsters, like Reiss Nelson (upon his loan return from Germany), Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith-Rowe the chances can be seen as an alternative.
  3. I sincerely hope that Arsenal will consider Casemiro, who’s an important yet underrated element of the Real Madrid squad. The same goes for Taulant Xhaka, who’s a Basel player. I’m not sure if he’s a good pick for the Gunners but I believe that Granit can do better if his brother is there.
  4. Arsenal missed out German “wonder kids” Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka who are now playing for Crystal Palace and Bayern Munich respectively. Christian Pulisic may be the answer that Arsenal want but the question is, will the scouts pay attention to him?
  5. Layvin Kurzawa can be a nice addition to the Arsenal team as he understands Emery’s tactics. On the other hand, Jordi Alba, who’s currently out of favour under Ernesto Valverde, is another feasible bet for the Spaniard.

Sure, Arsenal has star players in their team (at least Özil is still there). But in the end, I hope that Stan Kroenke, Ivan Gazidis and Unai Emery will come to terms and understand that the club needs a huge revamp of the squad.

Just hope that Kroenke won’t become a Scrooge in the times of team rebuilding and get Emery the cash he deserves. After all, money can be mighty if it’s used in the right areas (looking at you, Manchester City).