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2014 Indian Super League Launches

This is it. This is the trophy for which 8 newly formed teams in the inaugural Indian Super League will be fighting for. October 12th 2014 sees the start of the Indian Super League, a top tier league in Indian which features some of the best Indian players along with international stars, most though in the twilight of their careers. The league will run from October to December, with a finals series determining the champion. The formation of the league is an effort to bring some big money sponsorship to the beautiful game in India, where it stays on the sidelines both in glamour, achievements and financial benefits to cricket.

Indian football hopes that the big names and the hype will inspire more Indian footballers to spring forth from academies across the nation and also bring foreign talent, investment and investment to the next generation of footballers for us. The kind of investment that cricket has seen and hogged the limelights for so long! Unlike the majority of football leagues around the world, the ISL will not use the promotion and relegation system. Instead, the ISL will use a franchise system in which eight teams will be created to participate in the league. During the regular season, each team will play each other twice on a home and away basis. The top four teams at the end of the season will qualify for the finals series. The semi-finals will be played in a two-legged format with the winners moving onto the one-legged final. The Indian Super League will also consist of controlled rosters. Each team must sign at least one marquee player while they must also sign seven other foreigners. Of these seven foreigners, only two can be signed directly by the club with the other five coming from the foreign player draft. Each team must also have 14 Indian domestic players, four of which being local players to the city.

Above are the logos of the 8 teams. Below are some details like stadium, cities and marquee players plus coaches. I just hope this won’t become a Bollywood production and a hyped up bauble of a shame gimmick. This is India after all and with a lot of focus and news print given to the celebrity owners and stuff! The players seem almost lost in the midst of all this.

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Arsenal 0 Chelsea FC 2

In a match that saw both coaches threaten to steal the spotlight off the pitch, Diego Costa scored his ninth goal in six Premier League games to give Chelsea a comfortable win over Arsenal. Chelsea took the lead in the first half at the Stamford Bridge when Eden Hazard converted from the penalty spot after he been brought down Laurent Koscielny. Spain striker Costa added a second after the break when he latched on to long pass from Cesc Fabregas and lifted the ball over Wojciech Szczesny. Arsenal had a penalty appeal turned down, but otherwise rarely threatened.

Arsenal have only themselves to blame (and in particular Mezut Ozil) after failing to make something of the chances that they had, especially in the second half. Arsenal could have and should have scored atleast once yet they managed to falter yet again. Also the foolishness and mistakes are a plenty. The Gunners kept making rash challenges and bad passes at opportune moments and why the fuck did that moron Wenger not substitute Ozil is beyond me when he kept giving away the ball? Instead he took off Santi Carzola around the 70th minute to bring on Chamberlain.

Cahill should have walked for a late, ugly challenge on Sanchez, earning only a booking from Martin Atkinson. Wenger was enraged, marching over towards Mourinho, his tie flying up, his hackles equally raised and pushing Mourinho with both hands in the chest. Mourinho told Wenger where to go and pointed the way, indicating the away technical area that the Frenchman had vacated. Wenger & Mourinho were cautioned by the referee who pointed to the stands to indicate that he would send them off if they didn’t calm things down.

Arsenal now languish in 7th spot, 9 points behind Chelsea. Fire that Wenger!

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Arsenal 4 Galatasaray 1

Watching last night’s win at home against Galatasaray was a mix of 80% pure joy and 20% anger at the sheer stupid & unnecessary act that left the Gunners with 10 men to defend almost 30 minutes of the game. Danny Welbeck scored his first professional hat-trick as 10-man Arsenal swept aside Galatasaray in the Champions League. The England striker, excellent throughout, stabbed in a first-half opener before side-footing in a second. Alexis Sanchez then curled home before Welbeck clipped in his third. Burak Yilmaz scored a penalty after Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for a foul, but it was to be nothing more than a consolation. The win was Arsenal’s first in this year’s Champions League and means they have three points in Group D.

It was also the perfect way for manager Arsene Wenger to mark 18 years to the day since he was appointed Arsenal boss, and the Frenchman certainly deserves credit for naming an attack-minded side. With Welbeck playing in his favoured central role and the former Manchester United striker ably supported by the pace and creativity of Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Gunners simply had too much for a Galatasaray side who have now failed to win in 10 visits to English sides. Unlike previous games where they have dominated possession but failed to convert the key difference in this game was they posed a greater threat going forward. They pulled apart the Galatasaray defence for the opener as Sanchez raced on to Kieran Gibbs’s pass down the left, cut inside and slid a clever ball for Welbeck, who got around Felipe Melo before poking a shot through the legs of Fernando Muslera. Galatasaray rarely ventured forward as they tried to contain the Arsenal front four, and their nervousness perhaps contributed to a poor defensive error that allowed Arsenal to score a second.

After the second goal a section of the Turkish fans lit flares in the stand and threw some onto the pitch causing a brief stoppage of play. But once the action resumed, so did Arsenal’s dominance and Sanchez effectively put the game beyond Galatasaray when he ran through the defence to chase Ozil’s ball before curling home from 15 yards. After the break the Turks increased pressure but Arsenal increased their lead further as Welbeck, now brimming with confidence after his first-half double, grabbed his third of the game, timing his run for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pass to perfection before lifting the ball over Muslera. And now the stupidity – Szczesny took some of the shine off the victory when he was sent off on the hour, bringing down Y?lmaz and the striker picked himself up to send substitute keeper David Ospina the wrong way from the spot, but by then the damage was done.

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Indian Goalie In Norwegian Top League

While the ISL seems ready to start with a blast later in the month and provide the hordes of football fans in the country with some much needed pride of having a glamourous league (albeit with foreign top players in the twilight of their career and the season only being 2 months long and only 8 teams) one Indian youth is creating a name for himself in a foreign land. He is the fifth Indian footballer to play in Europe after Mohammed Salim (Celtic), Bhaichung Bhutia (Bury FC), Sunil Chhetri (Sporting Lisbon ‘B’) and Subrata Pal (FC Vestsjaelland).

It was a proud day for Indian football on August 15th as 22-year-old goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu completed his signing with Norway-based club Stabaek Football. The Mohali-born youngster spent time on trial with the club before signing a three-year deal. Despite being the first Indian to sign for a top league club in Europe (granted that the Norwegian league is in no way comparable to the likes of the English, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch or Belgian leagues and even the ones in Greece or Turkey) his achievement has been in the sidelines due to the pomp and sparkle of the ISL. Sandhu has arguably gone farther in Europe than any Indian ever has. While Baichung Bhutia spent time in England’s third tier and the likes of Sunil Chhetri and Subrata Paul have been limited to reserve team action, Sandhu has been on the bench for five consecutive Tippeligaen (Norway’s top tier) games for a 102-year-old club that has been a fixture in the Europa League in recent years.

He has started 6 reserve team games and the only thing standing between him and a starting berth is Sayouba Mande, who was part of Ivory Coast’s 2014 World Cup squad. The youngster does not expect to break into the starting eleven this season, but at 22, knows he has time on his side and believes his decision to choose Norway over the Indian Super League was right. Hope he goes on to nab the top spot for goalies and goes on to better things.

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Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspurs 1

In a bizarre game filled with injuries to Arsenal players causing 3 substitutions based solely on the injury factor, Tottenham & the Gunners played out a 1-1 draw. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ensured honours were even as Arsenal and Tottenham fought out an entertaining north London derby at Emirates. Nacer Chadli’s fourth goal in five Premier League appearances this season gave Spurs the lead early in the second half, but Oxlade-Chamberlain hit back with 15 minutes to go.

Wenger says Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta will miss games against Galatasaray and Chelsea because of injury. Both were substituted during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham, with Arteta, 32, suffering a calf problem and Ramsey, 23, a hamstring injury. The Gunners play Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday, before facing Chelsea in the Premier League four days later. Ramsey, who injured his ankle during Wales’ 2-1 Euro 2016 qualification win in Andorra on 9 September, was rested for Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at home by Southampton in the League Cup on Tuesday. Arteta has already had a couple of weeks out with injury.

Jack Wilshere, who took a knock to his ankle against Spurs and was substituted after 63 minutes, is doubtful for the visit of Galatasaray. Wenger said he was concerned by the number of injuries Arsenal have – with striker Olivier Giroud (broken tibia) and Mathieu Debuchy (ankle) out for a lengthy spell and Theo Walcott still a few weeks away from returning to training after sustaining a cruciate knee ligament injury in January.

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Arsenal 1 Southampton 2

In a 3rd round game of the less prestigious Capital One cup Arsenal lost at home to the Saints by a score of 2-1. Arsenal may have been understrength but have only themselves to blame for a lukewarm performance. Sure they made 10 changes to the team that won 3-0 away at Aston Villa but they had the lead when Alexis Sanchez’s superb free-kick opened the scoring. But Southampton continued their fantastic start to the season by coming from behind to beat Arsenal. Southampton hit back soon after going behind as Dusan Tadic scored a penalty given for a foul on debutant Sadio Mane. A stunning strike from Nathaniel Clyne gave the Saints a deserved lead, which they protected in a lively second half.

Arsenal strove for an equaliser in the second half but they were unable to break down the visitors, who could easily have added to their lead but for some wayward shooting. While Alexis was superb most of the players Wenger drafted in did much to stake a claim for a first-team place. Rosicky covered ground but provided relatively little, Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell were largely anonymous, while Abou Diaby, making his first start since March 2013, was understandably off the pace.

David Ospina in goal while Francis Coquelin, Héctor Bellerín, England under 21 defender Isaac Hayden & Callum Chambers started the match in defence. One good things Bellerin & Coquelin were good and with experience Hayden & Coquelin could become a staple at the club. And we really need more solid defensemen.

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Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 0

Only Arsene Wenger can manage this – having brought in 4 good players in the summer, his squad now actually looks worse off than the side was last season! How is that possible? And this irrespective of the scoreline.

Aston Villa, a surprise team in the 2nd position (early days but still impressive for them) look like a very confident side and sharp on the counter attack.  They looked likely to score and the experts panels & commentators were expecting a draw. And it certainly looked like Aston Villa could score a few and win as Arsenal struggled to find any flair upfront. Villa could have & should taken the lead when Ciaran Clark’s header, assisted by Tom Cleverley with a cross from the right side of the six yard box, is saved in the bottom right corner by Szczesny.

And then…suddenly the goals poured in for Arsenal. First Ozil & then Welbeck who score his first goal in an Arsenal jersey. And then an own goal by Cissokho. 3-0 in about 3 minutes. Mesut Özil left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal, assisted by Danny Welbeck with a through ball. Ozil returned the favour by assisting on Danny Welbeck’s first goal since being traded from Manchester United as he right footed shot from very close range to the high centre of the goal. And then the cross by Gibbs which was turned into his own goal by Cissokho; had he not put it The Ox was in fine position to slam home for a goal.

The second half was a stranger one as Arsenal seemed in no real urgency to increase that scoreline while dominating possession. Villa also didn’t want to embarrass themselves with a large score loss and hence it was a little sedate and less energetic. Arsenal wins 3-0 away at Villa Park and that should  give the Gunners, Ozil & Welbeck in particular, a lot of confidence.

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Arsenal 0 Borussia Dortmund 2

Arsenal’s Champions League Group D campaign got off to a poor start as Borussia Dortmund scored either side of half-time to secure a deserved victory. Ciro Immobile opened the scoring after powering past Laurent Koscielny to beat Wojciech Szczesny with a low finish. Dortmund doubled their lead when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished another fine breakaway. New signing Danny Wellbeck missed a good chance which proved to be costly in the end. The 23-year-old England forward – who signed from Manchester United earlier this month – fired wide after being put clean through when the Champions League game was goalless in Germany.

After the game manager Arsene Wenger refused to blame individuals for Arsenal’s poor display in Dortmund. “It’s very difficult to go into any individual assessment of any player because as a team we were not at the requested level,” added the Frenchman. Well Arsene, I blame you. What was very evident is that Arsenal are struggling defensively and it is going to take a lot to prevent this season from being a disastrous one. Once again I am amazed that this experienced & successful coach had let defender & ex-captain Tomas Vermalen leave the club before signing the replacements he needed. At that point we needed two more defenders. With the injuries happening this is even more critical. Missing defenders Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, Arsenal fielded 19-year-old full-back Hector Bellerin, whose only previous senior outing was a 26-minute substitute appearance in a League Cup tie.

Arsenal clearly lost the midfield game as well and the runs from the middle from Dortmund were scary for this Arsenal fan to watch. We need a strong defensive midfielder or two to be added and if they don’t come by January, you can kiss the season goodbye.  And sell the players who spend more time on the injury list than on the pitch – we have too many of those.

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Arsenal 2 Manchester City 2

For a few minutes it looked like we were going to win and establish ourselves as title contenders with an emphatic victory at home over the defending champions. Well we managed a draw but were really lucky not to have lost the game to Manchester City even though Arsenal played well. Arsenal were denied victory by Martin Demichelis’s late equaliser as they fought out an entertaining draw with Manchester City at Emirates Stadium. England striker Danny Welbeck made his Arsenal debut after his £16m move from Manchester United – and should have celebrated with a goal only to strike a post when clean through early on.

Sergio Aguero made Arsenal pay for that miss by putting City ahead before half-time but goals from Jack Wilshire and Alexis Sanchez saw the Gunners in sight of a memorable victory. Their hopes were dashed when poor marking at a corner allowed Argentine defender Martin Demicelis to beat Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny to earn a point seven minutes from time. Sadly if Szczesny left it, Matheiu Flamini was in the perfect spot to head it away. In a frantic finish, Aleksandar Kolarov hit the post for Manchester City and Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny cleared against his own post as the Premier League champions threatened to snatch the three points, which would have been very cruel on Arsene Wenger’s side. Then came that late flurry in which City almost won and Arsenal lost defender Mathieu Debuchy, taken off on a stretcher with an ankle injury, but a draw was a fair result.

Positives : Sanchez is paying off his high transfer cost and looks settled in the team. Wilshire was excellent today and hope he continues to find his form. Wellbeck looks strong and  in a few games could make some solid contributions.

Negatives : Defense, defense, defense! Arsenal will need to restock their defense as it seems easy for a speedy & pacy forward to slip past the current players. Also this is where that defensive midfielder would have come in handy. In January, Arsenal better buy defensively strong players. Ozil tends to look listless; why on earth didn’t Arsene bring on Chamberlain for him in the last 20 minutes or so where the Ox’s strength & pace would surely have given City some nightmares?

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Arsenal At The Transfer Deadline

So my fellow Arsenal fans, how does it feel after the transfer deadline day has passed? Like a slap on the face? A knee in the crotch? Yep! To be fair the transfers this season has been good overall. Coming into the 2014-15 season Arsenal had brought in 4 fresh new signings in attacker Alexis Sanchez, second goalkeeper David Ospina, left back Mathieu Debuchy & versatile defender Callum Chambers. However we all knew that it wasn’t enough. Carl Jenkinson was sent out on loan, captain Thomas Vermalen was sold to Barcelona and we lost Baccary Sanga on a free transfer to Manchester City. And adding to the fact that Theo Walcott is not yet  back from his injury, we also lost Kieran Gibbs (again) to injury and then striker Oliver Giroud to an ankle injury that will keep him out till January and then captain Mikkel Arteta is also out for a couple of weeks.  Going into the final days of the transfer window, and having played 6 games, we all knew that we needed to strengthen the squad a lot more.

We needed at the bare minimum a top class striker, a good holding midfielder and 1 more solid full back to ensure that we don’t fall apart. This was all the talk in the last couple of weeks. There were rumours of Sami Khedia, William Carvalho, Edinson Cavani, Falcao, Agger, Sokratis, Manolos, Ron Vlaar, Toby Alderweireld, Marco Reus all being possible signings. And in the end we only got – Danny Wellbeck! Unwanted at Manchester United and considered surplus there. You gotta laugh at the joke! It’s so typical of Arsene Wenger’s rubbishness these past few years. I wonder if he is losing his mind in his advancing years. It’s like being shown a scrumptious lunch/dinner buffet of all the best dishes the world has to offer but being given stale bread on your plate to eat! Well when you’re hungry you will eat the stale bread! And as EPL managers with better squads are doing last minute deals to further strengthen, “Professor” Arsene Wenger boards a plane to Italy, for a bigger priority – i.e. officiating at some obscure soccer match!

I have been a critic of Arsene Wenger for a while now but this tops everything. Selling Vermalen before signing a replacement, not addressing the defensive woes and midfield woes and a striker when you really need one! Oh for fuck’s sake!

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Arsenal 1 Leicester City 1

Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal in the English Premier League after joining Arsenal to give the Gunners the lead but it was neutralized quite quickly as hosts Lesicester City looked good enough for the 1-1 draw. In a match that saw a now somewhat typical Arsenal – strong in possession but awful in scoring for a top 4 club – waste plenty of opportunities yet again and also saw some sloppy defending at the back.

Arsenal lost centre-back Laurent Koscielny to an apparent head injury early during their Premier League clash with Leicester City, as the French international got the worse end of a clash with Jeffrey Schlupp. The experienced defender received extensive treatment on the pitch, but he didn’t look well at all. The treatment continued in the tunnel as Arsenal were hesitant to go for an immediate substitute, and Koscielny returned to the field wearing a protective wrap on his head. However, Koscielny was clearly out of sorts and lost his positioning when Leicester scored, prompting Arsene Wenger to bring on Calum Chambers.

Really awful performance by Arsenal. Where are the goals going to come from to balance our weak defense? Monreal in particular looks prone to sloppy defending although he does provide some width going forward. Merterzger Unfortunately we have a lot of “deliciate darlings” in the squad. Giggs, Walcott, Wilshire esp. With just a day left we still need at the least a holding midfielder – which scares me as with the exception of Oxalade-Chamberlain, the midfielders look fragile – another defender and yes a striker! Urgent! But can Arsene Wenger manage a trio of signings to sort out our shaky looking squad? I highly doubt it.

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Arsenal 1 Besiktas 0

It was really scary watching Arsenal struggle to hold on to a narrow 1-0 win at home over Turkish side Besiktas last night to qualify for the Champions League group stages. Scary because we almost drew and had that happened we would not have qualified. Arsene Wenger must consider himself lucky to have won and if he doesn’t see that then he is an idiot. His squad is full of holes and a slightly stronger opponent would have drilled holes in our defense.  Alexis Sanchez’s first goal for Arsenal since his £35m move from Barcelona claimed the prize of a place in the Champions League group stage for the 17th successive season on a tense night at Emirates Stadium. The Chilean scored after some good work by Mesut Ozil & Jack Wilshere – who did play with some resolve. Those were positives. Also, once he scored Sanchez looked to have a weight lifted off his shoulders and seemed to gain more confidence. May this be the start of more goals for him.

Another positive is Carzola looked more dangerous as well as Alex Oxalade-Chamberlain but the Ox must learn to gain composure in front of goal. He charges like….well like an ox to the 3rd of the pitch but then makes a mess outta things. And that is Arsenal’s problem there. They are good at keeping and even retaining possession but the moment they sees the goal area the player does some funny stuff and the chance is gone. And Arsenal need to do something with their players constantly getting injured and out for months – with Giroud, Gibbs, Walcott out injured and I’m sure more will follow soon as the season progresses. The midfield needs shoring up and this is where a strong holding midfielder like Carvalho or Khedira is needed.

Defense is shaky as well. Where is the new defender we needed Wenger & co? How can you just let Vermalen leave for Barcelona without replacing him till now. We need 2 more solid full backs pronto! And a striker. Where are the goals going to come from? Giroud is out for 3 months, Sanogo is still finding his legs and Alexis is still settling in. Things do not look good for Arsenal! Which is why I’ve keep saying that Wenger should have been let go last season. Time for a fresh outlook for the club.

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Arsenal 2 Everton 2

Last night’s game at Everton should be an eye-opener for Arsenal management. The squad is not yet complete. We need to make more changes before we can compete for the League on a regular basis and have a realistic chance of winning the EPL. Some players lack heart and at times it looks like they aren’t trying. Jack Wilshire, Nacho Monreal aren’t getting the job done. We need 1 or if possibly 2 solid defenders. Callum Chambers looks set to be a top defender in the league. Alexis Sanchez isn’t the great remedy….yet (2 games in so we’ll give him more time). Arsenal need another striker – badly. Aaron Ramsey is the heart of this team.

Two goals in the last seven minutes by Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud denied Everton as Arsenal fought back to maintain their unbeaten start to the season. It appeared that the Toffees were to give the Gunners’ title aspirations an early-season reality check as they took charge of the game with first half goals from Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith. Just as on their last visit to Goodison Park, a 3-0 defeat in April, Arsenal were being out-fought and out-thought by Roberto Martinez’s side and looked set to suffer the consequences. However the second goal by Naismith was clearly offside and it was a error by the linesman to let that go. It looked like Arsenal were on their way to another defeat against a top 5 club.

But that changed when Olivier Giroud came off the bench at half-time, and gave Wenger’s side a platform up front to haul themselves back into the game and, eventually, salvage a draw. Ramsey gave them hope when he converted Santi Cazorla’s low cross and the much-criticised Giroud capped a fine display when he headed home Nacho Monreal’s cross in the final minute. With Everton dropping deeper Arsenal pushed more men forward and, after Ramsey pulled their first goal back after 83 minutes, got their reward right at the end of the 90 minutes. Monreal salvaged an over-hit cross and turned the ball back into the area where Giroud beat Distin and nodded home.

Now waiting for any deals to come through.

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Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 1

Well the new season has started and things are exciting. Arsenal opened their season with a home victory over Crystal Palace and won unconvincingly 2-1. Palace had a man reduced just before the winning goal. Aaron Ramsey scored in stoppage time to break the resolve of Crystal Palace and give title contenders Arsenal a winning start to their league campaign. Palace defended very well, clogging the middle of the field and frustrating Arsenal’s attackers. Despite dominating possession Arsenal barely challenged Palace’s goalkeeper Julian Speroni.

The visitors took a shock first-half lead when Brede Hangeland headed in. The Gunners equalised just before the break when Laurent Koscielny nodded home from Alexis Sanchez’s free-kick. Managerless Palace looked set for a point but had forward Jason Puncheon sent off for a second offence in the 89th minute before Ramsey pounced. Credit for keeping Arsenal at bay should be given to Palace caretaker boss Keith Millen. The 47-year-old, originally from down the road in Croydon, was thrust into the hot-seat on Thursday following the shock departure of Tony Pulis. So having had less than 48 hours to plan Palace’s assault on their London rivals, Millen’s team did brilliantly to restrict the Gunners for so long.

Santi Carzola in particular looked out of sorts and his frustration was there for all to see as he kept giving away the ball and making awful passes. Arsenal looked lacking in the final 3rd of the pitch and despite the fact that they had only 5 regular players who started the game, Arsenal did not look like a side that could challenge for the league. However winning when not playing well is the mark of champions and 3 points is 3 points. It was important to start the season with a win and the team will gel as the weeks pass.

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Arsenal Win Community Shield After Beating Man City 3-0

Arsenal hammered Manchester City in the season’s traditional curtain-raiser, the Community Shield, scoring 3 goals to collect their first silverware of the new season. Santi Cazorla netted the opener before Aaron Ramsey doubled their lead before half-time. Substitute Olivier Giroud scored a stunner from distance to put the game beyond a weakened Manchester City side, who were missing the likes of Vincent Kompany, Bacary Sagna, Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta. You can’t read too much into this game as both sides aren’t at full strength and will possibly have one or two more signings each before the premier league starts.

But Arsenal were missing their trio of Germans in Mezut Ozil, Per Metzersacker & Lukas Podolski. But Calum Chambers could prove to be one of the buys of the year at just £16million, with the Saints academy product set to play in three different positions for the Gunners for many years to come. The Englishman featured at centre-back once again for this game, mainly due to a lack of cover, but acquitted himself well against two players you’d have to consider as top-level strikers.

Frankly Arsenal should have had a 4th goal but Alexis Sanchez delayed in going for the ball and that left City’s goalkeeper enough time for a tackle. Still good start for the new season Arsenal. Also Joel Campbell made his debut for Arsenal after spending all his career on loan till now.

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Arsenal – Outgoing Players 2014

While the transfer talks & rumours still go on, let’s talk about the players who have left Arsenal this off season.

Bacary Sagna – Free to Manchester City

This one hurt a bit while it was going down and during the closing games of the last season. Despite being wanted at Arsenal, Sagna felt that he had to leave. However in the wake of the 4 new players who have come in and exciting times for Arsenal, Sagna has all been forgotten by the fans. He made his name in Arsenal and left on a free transfer for Manchester City where, as he says, he will have more of a chance to win the league and cups. Funny that he did this just after Arsenal won the FA Cup for the first time in 9 years. When he faces off against Arsenal it will be just another game!

Lukasz Fabianski – Free to Swansea

This one could have been avoided as Fabianski is a good goalie and was our FA Cup hero. He just wasn’t good enough to be our #1. He left for first team action at Swansea which he felt he needed to do at this stage of his career. He too left on a free transfer as he did not wish to extend his contract. Arsenal replaced him with Ospina who could challenge for the #1 spot.

Nicklas Bendtner has been released from his contract after failing to establish his place in the squad. At time it felt that he wasn’t even trying and then he’d go and score an important goal! Since then he has been in the news having tweeted an audacious nude pic of him with his genitals covered by a cap. He had been thought to be close to a move to Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany, but the Bundesliga side ended negotiations due to the demands Bendtner’s camp were making when it came to his wages.

Park Chu-Young, Chuks Aneke, Daniel Boateng were also released by the club and wished the best for their future. I’ve only seen Park play and hadn’t even heard about the other two. Also Thomas Eisfeld was sold to Fulham – never seen him play either. Also captain Tomas Vermalen may soon be leaving to Barcelona.

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Arsenal Looking Good With Trio Of Confirmed Signings

Finally Arsene Wenger has seen the light and armed with the $100 million that the club board of directors have given him to buy quality players, he has set out to strengthen the squad and make the club look like title contenders. With a few exceptions, grabbing players on deadline day has become what Arsenal fans are used to which has frustrated fans including myself. Wenger has always been seen as the most miserly of managers when it comes to shelling out the big bucks for buying world class quality players that not only gives your team a glamourous look but also excites the fans to root for the team. And in this day and age, you need to spend to keep a quality side. There are some exceptions where a combination of good quality but lesser known players combine well to play outta their minds and guided by the right coach they can win leagues – Athletico Madrid comes in mind! However you can’t always do that.

Despite having some marquee signings in the years since I became a faithful fan of the Gunners, the clubs has recently stuck to a policy of either building from within (which hasn’t always been the best for us) or letting Wenger buy players who all seem to play alike – talented & exciting but certainly fragile and injury prone and prone to not rising to the occasion against the bigger clubs and occasionally fumbling against weaker opponents. Hopefully this season will be the start of a stronger and more winning era for Arsenal which will see us back to challenging and winning the English league as well as that elusive first Champions League trophy. Wenger & staff has made a few signings which will help us get there.

First up is Chile’s attacking star Alexis Sanchez who was bought from Barcelona. Sanchez has shined at the recently concluded World Cup and will add some sharp teeth to the attack. Next up was Matheiu Debuchy who was signed from Newcastle United to be the replacement for the departing Bacary Sagna, who signed with Manchester City this offseason. Both signings have been met with resounding approval and more recently Colombian goalie David Ospina has also signed from Nice. Although he is being signed as the backup goalie Wojciech Szczesny should surely be concerned about his number one spot. Ospina, who stood out for a brilliant Colombian side at the World Cup, turned a lot of heads in his country’s run to the quaterfinals and will battle for the top stopper role as Wenger confirms it.

And that’s not all; Wenger stated that Arsenal are not done and could be finalizing the signing of promising youngster Callum Chambers for $16 million from Southampton and who will be the second choice to Deuchby at right back but can also fill in at the center back’s role! Also Sami Khedira is the transfer rumour that refuses to go away – the only hindrance is his high salary demands but that might be sorted out soon. I hope we get a couple of more really good signings before the season starts. Things look good.

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Germany Crowned World Cup Champions

A couple of days late due to no internet connectivity but nevertheless here is my final report for the 2014 World Cup. It was a deserved win for the Germans as they defeated Argentina by a solitary goal struck by substitute attacking midfielder Mario Gotze in extra time. It was heartbreaking for the Argentines and their fans as they had the better of the chances till then and also it looked like heading towards penalties at that point until the super substitution by coach Joachim Low provided the needed goal. Germans were ecstatic and jubilant on winning their first world cup as united Germany (West Germany has won 3 cups) and they celebrated like the best. I think it was a well deserved win as they are a very strong team, especially that midfield with substitutes as well. Awesome set of players.

A night before the Netherlands further impounded the dramatic change of fortunes for hosts Brazil as they won 3-0 against the Brazilians to take the 3rd place spot. Goals from Robin Van Persie (penalty) & Daley Blind in the first half followed by an injury time goal by Georginio Wijnaldum sealed what has to be the worst two game showing by the so-called mighty Brazil. They have let in 10 goals in two games and as expected coach Luis Scolari was given the ax after the tournament ended. And now the transfers will take precedence as clubs look to strengthen their squads before the season start in August.

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