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Arsenal 0 Manchester United 1

Arsenal seemed too nervous and lacked the killer instinct in their biggest match of the season so far as they lost 0-1 at Manchester United. At stake for the game was a a chance to maintain a 5 point gap at the top of the table, bragging rights and a psychological advantage and to cement their chances of being credited as solid front runners for the league title. They faltered at the stage and despite improving their game in the second half and going close a few times they were defeated. What was worse is that former Arsenal top scorer Robin Van Persie was the one who scored the goal for United and then celebrated in exuberant style.

All is not lost and the engaging game, narrow margin or a solitary goal shows signs that Arsenal can reverse the scoreline and more when their hated rivals visit the Emirates stadium later in the season. But they did have a chance to shut out any naysayers who felt that the Gunners were not yet title contenders. On the other side United boss David Moyes knew defeat would have left them 11 points adrift in the title race, a gap which might have proved beyond even the reigning champions. Wenger revealed sickness in his camp had deprived him of defender Per Mertesacker and midfielder Tomas Rosicky, while Mikel Arteta was fit to start despite also feeling unwell. This may have contributed towards a decidedly flat first 45 minutes. And despite a much-improved second half, which included two perfect crosses from full-back Bacary Sagna that somehow went untouched, it was United’s fans who were celebrating a win of great significance at the final whistle.

It was a disappointing end to a week in which Arsenal made major statements of intent against Liverpool in the Premier League and away to Dortmund in the Champions League. Now we go into the international break with a 2 point lead over Liverpool at the top of the table and United climb upto 5th place 5 points away.

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Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0

It was the first meeting this season from old foes and current first & second spot holders in the league. Liverpool FC came visiting to the Emirates stadium last night and Arsenal had a point to prove to their doubters after two back to back defeats at home – to Dortmund in the Champions League and to Chelsea in midweek in the League Cup. Arsenal showed resilience and quality to maintain their fine start to the season and stretch their advantage after Chelsea’s surprise loss at Newcastle United. But it was Liverpool who started things of brighter and took the game to the Gunners in the opening few minutes. Arsenal stemmed the flow and started attacking themselves.

Santi Cazorla gave Arsenal the lead with a fine first-half strike after his header struck the post and Aaron Ramsey scored his 10th goal of this campaign with a spectacular long-range effort on the hour. Captain Mikel Arteta gave a midfield masterclass in which he overshadowed his Liverpool counterparts to set the platform for a vital win that gave the club 3 points and a healthy 5 point lead over Liverpool at the top of the league standings. Arsenal were without the injured Jack Wilshere but there was still more than enough ability on display in both sides to make the first 45 minutes a thrilling spectacle. Arsenal, who were just finding their feet, took the lead after 19 minutes with a goal that was a tribute to Cazorla’s balance and technique. He recovered his position brilliantly to volley past Mignolet after hitting the woodwork with a header.

Liverpool might feel that they were denied an equalizer when referee pulled them back after a very quickly taken freekick after Bacary Sagna had fouled Luiz Suarez. Arsenal created more moments of danger as Olivier Giroud failed to profit from ex-Gunners defender Kolo Toure’s misplaced pass, then poked a shot straight at the keeper. After 59 minutes Ramsey made Liverpool pay for offering up time and space 25 yards out by finishing spectacularly high past Mignolet with the outside of his right foot. Mesut Ozil almost added a third as Arsenal ended in comfort. And this was a performance that will have increased Wenger and Arsenal’s confidence that they can maintain a serious challenge this season.

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Arsenal 2 Crystal Palace 0

Well that was a pretty hard fought & exciting match that Arsenal just won away at Crystal Palace. Hosts Palace, who are without a manager, didn’t exactly lie down and play dead and it was a tough win to pull off. This is the kind of game that Arsenal would have lost in the last 5 years in the league but the Gunners seem to be playing with a lot more confidence now. And they achieved it with playing 25 minutes plus stoppage time of 4 minutes with a man down!Arsenal also lost Matheiu Flamini to what looked like a groin injury in the 6th minute and he was replace by promising youngster Serge Gnabry.

Arsenal’s other holding midfielder Mikel Arteta scored a penalty after Adlene Guedioura’s foul on Serge Gnabry before being dismissed on 65 minutes for a professional foul on Marouane Chamakh. It was a silly sending off as former Arsenal striker Chamakh was no where near the Arsenal goal and still had lots of running to do. Arteta should have just stayed with him and hindered his goal scoring chances. Instead he impeded the Moroccan’s run and down the player came tumbling and out came the red card from the referee’s pocket. Straight red and Arteta should have his head examined. What can you hope to accomplish by getting sent off and getting your side reduced to 10 men?

Palace who were already attacking and attempting shots on goal looked even more likely to score the equilizer and I stated on both Facebook and Twitter that “I’ll be glad if Arsenal are able to get away with a draw in this game.” A goal just seemed likely and it took too superb saves from our goalie Szczesny. And yes the goal did come – but it was for the Gunners! Olivier Giroud secured Arsenal’s win when he headed in late in the game on an assist by Aaron Ramsey and that was a hard fought and well deserved win for the league leaders who now sit on 22 points at the top of the league and 5 ahead of 2nd place Liverpool and 6 ahead of Chelsea FC.

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Arsenal 4 Norwich City 1

A very good showing for Arsenal with 4 goals just concluded at the Emirates stadium with a hard earned win against Norwich City. Yes, hard earned as despite the 3 goal gap, Norwich was not an easy team to defeat. The Gunners looked lethargic after the international break but Jack Wilshere volleyed in a superb opener in the 18th minute that will surely challenge for goal of the season so far. Norwich tested the Gunners attempting to take advantage of what seemed liked tired players and they went into the half time break at 1-0. The second half saw the visitors taking the game to Arsenal with a spell of some attacking football before Ozil’s header in the 58th minute appeared to settle it. 2-0.

However a spirited Norwich side languishing at the relegation zone came back soundly as Jonny Howson found the bottom corner with 20 minutes left to fray nerves. At 2-1 things did not look settled for Arsenal and they players needed a break. But Aaron Ramsey scored a lovely ninth goal of the season, waltzing through the defense and faking two shots before scoring  to make it 3-1 and Ozil grabbed an easy second. Although Norwich threatened on several occasions, the visitors were caught out by three moments of class as Arsenal warned up for their Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday with a clinical win. Defeat meant Chris Hughton’s Norwich side have lost four of their last five league games and remain in the bottom three.

Arsenal with 8 games  played have 19 goals at sit at the top of the league with Chelsea & Liverpool just 2 points behind. Manchester United drew again and are 8 points behind at the 8th spot.

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Arsenal 2 Napoli 0

Arsenal’s impressive start to their season (minus the opening day loss to Aston Villa) & their Champions League campaign continued as Mesut Ozil inspired them to victory over Rafael Benitez’s Napoli at the Emirates Stadium. The £42m deadline-day signing from Real Madrid scored his first goal for Arsenal with a brilliant finish, and then set up a second for Olivier Giroud as this Group F meeting was effectively decided within the first 15 minutes. The money spent on the German international is paying off for Wenger and the Gunners.

Arsenal’s domination ensured the rest of the game was little more than a formality as Napoli, riding high in Serie A, never threatened to upset the optimism that has swept around Arsenal and also taken them to the top of the Premier League. At the heart of it all was Ozil, the German combining natural grace with deadly contributions that proved too much for Napoli, who had proved their own pedigree by beating last season’s Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund in their opening group game. Arsenal produced the perfect follow-up performance to their win in Marseille and now head a group that looked littered with hazards when the draw was made. Aaron Ramsey also produced another highly accomplished performance, setting up Ozil’s goal and continuing the outstanding form that has been a hallmark of Arsenal’s opening to the season.

Former Liverpool keeper Reina could not be blamed for either goal and he was in action to prevent a third for Arsenal with 14 minutes left, blocking from Laurent Koscielny from close range after Mikel Arteta flicked on. All that was left was for Arsenal to close out another important Champions League victory, which they did without alarm.

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Arsenal 2 Swansea 1

Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to two points as goals from Serge Gnabry and Aaron Ramsey saw them to victory at Swansea. After Tottenham and Chelsea drew, and Manchester United and Manchester City lost, the Gunners capitalised to maintain their early-season promise. German teenager Gnabry slotted the opener after half-time, his first goal for Arsenal,  and in-form Ramsey fired in to double the advantage. However, Swansea were a battling team, playing an attacking style befitting their coach former Danish international Michael Laudrup. Ben Davies volleyed home to give Swansea hope but Arsenal held on.

The result extends their club record of consecutive away wins in all competitions to 12 and equals their record of eight in the Premier League, which was set in the 2001-02 title-winning campaign. While much credit has gone to new signing Mesut Ozil, once again Arsenal’s driving force was Ramsey, who joined them as a 17-year-old in 2008 and suffered from injury and inconsistency until this season. The former Cardiff player was booed throughout by the home supporters but responded with another commanding display, playing a role in both of his side’s goals and scoring an eighth in eight games. Similarly influential was Gnabry, the 18-year-old German scoring his first goal for the Gunners in only his second Premier League start. Both men shone against a Swansea side now without a league win in eight matches at the Liberty Stadium, where Arsenal kicked-off knowing exactly what was at stake having seen their rivals slip up earlier in the day.

The other match that I saw last evening was Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspurs which ended in a 1-1 draw and saw Fernando Torres sent off.

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Arsenal 3 Stock City 1

Not playing at their best but it was still good enough for Arsenal to get a 3-1 win at home against Stoke City and all 3 points that sees them go to the top of the table. Mesut Ozil had a hand in all three Arsenal goals as they chalked up their seventh consecutive victory by more or less comfortably beating Stoke. The outcome was never in doubt even when Stoke managed to score a stunning equalizer in the first half. Stoke equalised before the break when Geoff Cameron steered in after Marko Arnautovic hit the post. Aaron Ramsey notched his seventh goal in eight games by knocking in after Asmir Begovic saved Ozil’s free-kick.

Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna then headed in Ozil set-pieces as Arsenal moved to the top of the Premier League. With Tottenham playing Cardiff later on Sunday, Arsene Wenger’s side could be overtaken by their north London rivals. But this result was another demonstration of how Ramsey and Ozil, making his home debut, are becoming pivotal players for the Gunners. With a still lengthy injury list, there was a further worry for Wenger when Theo Walcott was ruled out before kick-off with a pelvic abdominal injury. However, his 18-year-old German deputy, Serge Gnabry, looked comfortable in his first game of the season. Mikel Arteta also returned for the final 10 minutes following a thigh problem.

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Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1

It wasn’t a satisfactory win at all but in the end we still got the 3 points that we came for. Aaron Ramsey scored twice as Arsenal beat Sunderland in contentious circumstances.

Arsenal debutant Mesut Ozil set up Olivier Giroud for an early strike, with Craig Gardner equalising from the spot after the break. But after Ramsey volleyed in, the game turned when Jozy Altidore was denied a goal after referee Martin Atkinson failed to play an advantage. Ramsey scored a fine second to earn Arsenal’s fifth consecutive win. There was a Sunderland goal disallowed for being offside in the second half and an another just a few minutes after Arsenal scored their second goal; that was the weirdest decision – the ref chose to stick to his whistle for a fowl on Craig Gardner, who went on to score! But the goal was disallowed and a close range free kick was given instead.

At that point it looked as if Arsenal would indeed survive and my prediction of a 3-1 win did come true. In the 75th minute, Ramsey scores with a right foot finish.  More troubling for Arsenal & Wenger is that Giroud was taken off injured towards the end of the match. With Podoslki already out injured for a few weeks, we can’t have Giroud out as well

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Mesut Ozil Moves To Arsenal

Arsenal have completed the £42.4m signing of Real Madrid and Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil to break their club record by £27.4m. Ozil, 24, has signed a five-year deal. “I am thrilled to be joining a club of the stature of Arsenal and am looking forward to playing in the Premier League,” he said. The Gunners have also signed Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, 27, but talks have broken down with Chelsea to sign striker Demba Ba, 28, on loan. Arsenal have failed in high-profile attempts to sign Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain, a former team-mate of Ozil at Real Madrid, this summer.

But they have now captured Ozil after Gareth Bale’s world-record £85.3m switch from Tottenham to Real triggered further deals on the final day of the transfer window. The move easily surpasses the £15m they paid Zenit St Petersburg for Andrey Arshavin in 2009. Germany international Ozil joined Real from Werder Bremen three years ago for a fee believed to be about £12.4m and has played 155 times for the club. Going into transfer deadline day, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had previously made only two signings – striker Yaya Sanogo, 20, and midfielder Mathieu Flamini, 29, arriving on free transfers. But the signing of Ozil, who helped Real win La Liga in 2011-12 and was named in Uefa’s team of the tournament at Euro 2012, delivers a signal of intent to the Gunners’ Premier League rivals.

The Gelsenkirchen born Ozil is from a Turkish immigrant family and has previously played for Schalke. He has been capped 47 times by Germany scoring 14 goals in international matches. He has won the Spanish Super Cup (2012) & La Liga (2011-12) & Copa del Rey (2011) with Madrid, and a DFB Cup (2009) & DFL Supercup (2009) with Bremen.

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Arsenal 1 Tottenham 0

Arsenal continued their fine home record against Tottenham by handing their north London rivals a first defeat of the season. But they really had to work for the win and for the last 20-15 minutes of the game it looked like Spurs might be that equalizer. Olivier Giroud scored his fourth goal this term when he tucked in Theo Walcott’s low cross at the near post. Andros Townsend had a shot saved in an open start, while Hugo Lloris denied Giroud and Walcott after the break. Wojciech Szczesny stopped Jermain Defoe’s deflected shot as Arsenal moved fourth in the Premier League table.

There was one worry for Arsenal fans as midfielder Jack Wilshere came off before half-time but Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said afterwards it was illness rather than injury that prompted the 21-year-old’s withdrawal. This absorbing encounter lacked the high-scoring of the 5-2 victories the Gunners have enjoyed over Spurs for the last two seasons. But a fourth consecutive win since they lost to Aston Villa on the opening day was a perfect response from the Gunners to taunts about Arsene Wenger’s lack of spending compared with Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas. Tottenham have only won once at Arsenal since 1993 and, despite creating several good openings, it was Arsenal who enjoyed the more clear-cut opportunities, Santi Cazorla twice showing his invention from clever free-kicks early on.

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Bale To Real Madrid In Record Breaking Fee

So the Gareth Bale transfer saga is finally coming to a close. Tottenham Hotspur have finally agreed the world-record €100?million (£86? million) transfer of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. An official announcement is due to be made as early as Tuesday. Significantly, the agreement involves a straight cash deal with no players coming from Real to Spurs as had been earlier discussed when inquiries were made about striker Álvaro Morata and left-back Fábio Coentrão. The 24-year old flew into Spain on Saturday, on a private jet, and spent Sunday behind the walls of the gated complex awaiting the green light on the deal. The luxury complex was being staked out yesterday by the expectant Spanish media.

He will travel to Madrid for a formal medical and to sign what is expected to be a six-year contract, believed to be worth £8.5?million a year before tax, and could also be unveiled at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on Tuesday. A stage has already been erected on the eastern side of the 85,000-seat stadium alongside the directors box. Real play away to Granada on Monday night and are home to Athletic Bilbao next Sunday in what is now expected to be Bale’s debut appearance. The fee beats the £80?million record that Cristiano Ronaldo set when he moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 although it falls short of the €120 million (£103 million) that Spurs were at one time quoting to let Bale go. Real have left the No?11 shirt vacant – and the Bale shirt has already apparently gone on sale in the club shop.

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Arsenal 3 Fullham 1

After last weekend’s disastrous season opener against West Ham which we lost 1-3, Arsenal have indeed bounced back with some determination and vigour. Optimism was in short supply following that demoralising setback. But the impressive triumph against Fenerbahce in Istanbul had raised hopes. And the inability to bring in new faces despite numerous high-profile attempts was quickly forgotten. Midweek we had the away game in Turkey against Fenerbache in the Champions League qualifying, which the Gunners emphatically won 3-0. Doing that away in Turkey is not an easy task. This leaves the club in a good position for the return leg at the Emirates and barring a meltdown, should easily make it through to the Champions League proper. Now that was done, it was time to show the faithful fans that they mean business.

Today the match was against fellow Londoners Fullham and Arsenal did well at Craven Cottage. Arsenal piled on the pressure early on and were rewarded when Giroud cleverly flicked the ball past Stockdale with the outside of his left foot for his third goal in three games after the Frenchman made the most of a very fortunate ricochet from Aaron Ramsey’s mis-hit shot. Arsenal – who left Jack Wilshere on the bench – were still controlling much of the midfield battle through Ramsey and still looked the more threatening. And after an encouraging 10 minutes for the west Londoners, Arsenal made it two four minutes before the interval when Podolski brilliantly steered the ball home at pace from 18 yards after Stockdale had done well to keep out Walcott’s initial effort.

Giroud should have added a third in the final seconds of the first period, but was caught in two minds and the ball rolled harmlessly across the goal. Arsenal added a third when a wonderful piece of control by Giroud in the centre of the pitch led to Podolski firing a low cross shot into the far corner. Fulham persisted though and had something to cheer when Bent turned the ball in from a couple of yards out after a superb piece of control and instant shot from Berbatov.

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Arsenal Lose Opener To Aston Villa

Ok, everyone knows that I wanted Arsene Wenger to bloody well get lost from London and stop coaching the club last year. This year, I hope they fire him. Losing players, not being able to bring in new quality players, this guy has lost it.

On top of it, all the calls kept going the way of Villa. Great job ref! I hope you get syphilis. Christian Benteke scored twice and Antonio Luna added a third as Aston Villa came from behind to stun Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on the opening day. Benteke controversially put Villa ahead from the spot after a foul by Laurent Koscielny, who was later shown a second yellow card for a mistimed challenge. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring, but Benteke headed an equaliser after Wojciech Szczesny saved his penalty. New signing Luna raced clear to seal Arsenal’s woe with a low strike.

The full-time whistle was greeted with resounding boos from the home crowd, although the arena was near-empty by that point. Arsenal’s only summer signing to date is the free transfer of 20-year-old French striker Yaya Sanogo from Auxerre, and supporters were repeatedly chanting for their club to spend some money. Arsene Wenger has 16 days to bolster the squad, but his immediate priority will be Wednesday’s Champions League play-off first leg at Fenerbahce.
It was Arsenal’s first home defeat on the season’s opening day in 20 years and only Villa’s third victory in 28 trips to the Gunners.

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Goodbye Wigan, Reading & Queens Park Rangers

As another season ends, another 3 sides get related from the English Premier League and will play next season in Football League Championships, the second highest league in England. Those 3 sides for 2012-13 are Wigan Athletic, Reading FC & Queens Park Rangers. We have the final round of games to be played this weekend but there are no chances for any of the 3 teams to move out of the relagation zone.

Wigan reached the FA Cup Final for the first time in their history this season. In the final, played at Wembley Stadium, Wigan beat Manchester City 1–0, with a goal by Ben Watson scored in injury time. Wigan’s first ever major trophy also gave the club a place in the group stage of the Europa League. Following their 4–1 defeat to Arsenal three days later, Wigan Athletic end their eight year spell in the Premier League and became the first team to be relegated and win the FA Cup in the same season.

Having gained promotion at the end of last season after winning the Championship. Reading will be competing in the Championship again next season having been relegated after one year back in the top flight. On 23 November 2012, Mark Hughes was sacked on the back of a poor start to the 2012–13 season, having amassed only 4 points in 12 games and with the club languishing at the bottom of the Premier League despite significant financial investment in new players in the 11 months of Hughes’ tenure. A day later, Harry Redknapp was confirmed as the new manager.On Sunday 28 April 2013, in a 0-0 draw against fellow relegation rivals Reading F.C. and with 3 games of the season to play, QPR were relegated from the Barclays Premier League down to the Championship after two seasons in the top flight.

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Arsenal 4 Reading 1

I haven’t watched a full live match in a few weeks since I tend to go out on Saturday nights and hence stick to Sunday matches or highlights. Last night I sat back to watch a live streaming of the Arsenal vs Reading match. Arsenal maintained their push for a top-four finish with a comfortable victory that sent Reading bottom of the Premier League on goal difference. Gervinho opened the scoring with a close-range finish from Santi Cazorla’s cross-come-shot as Arsenal dominated.

Cazorla curled in after half-time before Olivier Giroud drilled a third. Reading reduced the deficit through Hal Robson-Kanu’s header, but Mikel Arteta secured the points with a penalty after a foul on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arsenal had many more chances to increase their advantage, but the result was never in doubt. They stay fifth in the table but are now just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who were beaten at Southampton, and four behind third-placed Tottenham, over whom the resurgent Gunners have a game in hand. Arsene Wenger’s side have won five of their last six Premier League games and their confidence was apparent against a Reading side who would have done little to impress their new manager Nigel Adkins. Arsenal after 30 games sit at 5th place on 53 points, just two behind Chelsea and 4 points behind Tottenham who sit in 3rd place.

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Japanese-Indian Connection

What there is an international football game being played in Cochin tomorrow and I didn’t get to know about it till today? So I was reading about the build up and previews; India is playing Palestine who doesn’t even have a proper nation to define. I read about the difficulties that the players & that which the Palestinian coach faces – unable to get all players together most of the time, difficulties in getting visas for some of the players, travel being banned between West Bank & Gaza, some players based in Jordan or Lebanon etc etc. Compared to that Indian football faces just bureaucracy, stupidity, lack of funds, advertising & sponsorship as cricket gets all the money, low public expectation and thereby nonchalance attitude over the national team’s performances. And then I found out about this guy:

Arata Izumi will be making his international debut for India when the match kicks off. The Pune FC player is usually a roving second striker and will be the first foreign national to play for India. The Japanese born Izumi has an Indian father and a Japanese mother. After his early years in Japan, he started his professional football career with Albirex Niigata Singapore of the S.League.

Despite his growing reputation in Singapore, he was never called up for the parent club in Japan. In 2006 he moved back to Japan and signed for Mitsubishi Motors Mizushima F.C. of the Japan Football League, where he worked at the Mitzubishi plant for 10 hours and then practiced for 2 in the evening. Late in the year he signed with East Bengal FC in India and played with them for a season. In 2007 he signed with Mahindra United and from 2009 he has been playing with Pune FC, where last year in August it was announced that he has recieved Indian citizenship. Reading up on him, reminded me of this fellow:

Dan Nainan is an American standup comic born in Indiana to an Indian Malayalee father & a Japanese mother. Before becoming a comedian, Nainan worked at Intel Corporation as a senior engineer, before being promoted to Strategic Relations Manager! During presentations at high profile events Dan found it experienced tremendous stage fright. To fight he fear he took classes and eventually joined a comedy group. His Intel coworkers, upon viewing a videotape of his, invited him to perform at a team dinner for 200 employees at a high tech convention in Las Vegas. Upon seeing that performance, the organizers of Intel’s annual sales conference asked Nainan to perform for 2,500 salespeople from around the world. Restless at his stationary new job and anxious to use his creative talents, he left Intel to pursue stand up comedy full time in 2007. He opened his 300 seater club to promote clean comedy in the DC area. Nainan’s book about standup comedy, titled How to Become a Full-Time Standup Comedian, was published by HyperInk Press on April 18, 2012.

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Arsenal 1 Stoke City 0

The match just got over. Arsenal defeated Stoke City with a controversial goal deep in the second half. Substitute Lukas Podolski’s deflected free-kick earned Arsenal victory and left battling Stoke City deflated at Emirates Stadium. Potters goalkeeper Asmir Begovic produced a series of fine saves before Podolski struck in the closing stages. Begovic denied Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from five-yards, kept out Laurent Koscielny’s header before saving Oxlade-Chamberlain’s angled drive. But Podolski’s set-piece went in off Geoff Cameron to ease the frustration.

The goal was controversial as the linesman seemed to flag for something after the ball went in (offside on Walcott perhaps?) but it was ruled by the referee that the goal should stand as the ball deflected off a Stoke City player. Stoke City, certainly in the running for least popular visitors to the Emirates didn’t help their cause by a series of fouls late in the game and things got a bit heated but the referee kept a cool head which helped things. Michael Owen saw some action, coming on late in the game for Stoke.

The game saw the debut of new Arsenal signing Nancho Monreal, a signing just 3 days ago from Malaga for around £10m. Monreal has agreed a long-term deal, thought to be four and a half years. The 26-year-old has made 54 appearances for Malaga since joining from Osasuna in 2011 and won seven caps for Spain. Arsenal made their move after Kieran Gibbs was ruled out for three weeks with a thigh strain sustained in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool. That left Andre Santos as their only recognised left-back. Monreal is however cup tied for the Champions League.

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Arsenal 3 Brighton 2; FA Cup

Arsene Wenger rested some of his regulars in the FA Cup 4th round match against Brighton and almost paid the price for it. Theo Walcott’s deflected late winner settled a pulsating encounter and sent Arsenal into the FA Cup fifth round at the expense of battling Brighton. Gus Poyet’s Championship side demonstrated exactly why they are play-off contenders as they pushed Arsenal every inch of the way before finally being beaten by substitute Walcott’s strike five minutes from time. Arsenal led twice through Olivier Giroud but in a thunderous atmosphere Brighton bounced back and looked to have secured at least a replay with goals from Ashley Barnes and £2m Argentine striker Leonardo Ulloa on his debut. Arsene Wenger sent on Walcott and Jack Wilshere in the second half to give Arsenal extra thrust and control. And it was Walcott who answered his manager’s call with a volley from the edge of the area after Brighton goalkeeper Casper Ankergren punched a corner out to the edge of the area.

Arsenal’s visit drew a record crowd to The Amex – but they did not see Wilshere, Walcott and Santi Cazorla from the start as they were left on the bench. The Gunner swept to the other end to take the lead after 16 minutes, Giroud measuring a perfect left-foot finish high past Ankergren from 20 yards. To Brighton’s credit, they were not knocked out of their stride by the goal and applied pressure to Arsenal’s struggling left-back Andre Santos as he battled to contain the lively Will Buckley. Brighton, who had replaced injured captain Gordon Greer with Gary Dicker, drew level after 33 minutes as Barnes made amends for his earlier miss by beating Szczesny to David Lopez’s cross to head in.

Arsenal opened with greater intent after the restart, with Lukas Podolski striking the bar from a free-kick, but it proved to be a temporary reprieve as the dangerous Giroud showed held off Adam El-Abd to sweep a finish past Ankergren from close range after 56 minutes. In a thrilling game, Brighton once more showed their strength of character to draw level six minutes later. Arsenal’s slack defending left manager Wenger infuriated on the sidelines as Ulloa stooped to send a diving header past Szczesny from Barnes’s cross. And that’s when Walcott comes in.

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