All posts by Gary Armstrong

Arsenal: Why Signing Balotelli Would Be A Shrewd Move

Arsene Wenger is a man who wants his football played predominately through the middle of the park. Although he deploys players such as Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla, they often tuck inside and look to link up with Olivier Giroud in the central areas. So, to reinforce their striker area they will need a forward who is comfortable with the ball to feet, can keep hold of possession and combine with the creative players behind them.

One man who stands out for me is Mario Balotelli and the Express are reporting that the Gunners could make a move in the summer after Wenger held talks with the player’s agent.

Arsenal fans should be excited about the prospect. Not only because of what he can offer on the pitch, but his off-field personality has the potential to light up the Emirates.

Balotelli’s strike at the weekend against Bologna summed the Italy international for me. After being reduced to tears the week previous following being substituted, Balotelli fizzed a last gasp winner from distance this time out and calmly turned away without celebrating.

He’s a powerful striker who is capable of winning a game without notice and for me he would be a brilliant choice of signing in the summer. 

Arsenal Midfielder Full Of Praise For Current Squad, But How Is He Performing Individually?

When Arsenal celebrated their FA Cup victory back in 2005 few people would have said that it would be their last piece of silverware in at least nine years.  The Gunners have had to endure a long, tough time over the last decade or so, but things are starting to look up again.

They have topped the Premier League table for the majority of the season this time round, and although they are now in second place after Chelsea leapfrogged them recently, there is still believe around north London.

One man who is still in full belief that they can win something is French midfielder Mathieu Flamini – who is enjoying his second spell at the club. Not only has he praised the commitment, the work-rate and the mentality of the players, but he also putting in some solid displays of his own.

He has played 18 league games for the Gunners since his return in the summer and another six in cup competitions. In the topflight he has a 92% pass success and averages five defensive actions per game, but it’s the way he stations himself in the middle of the pitch, collecting the scraps and breaking up play, that lets the more offensive players roam up the pitch and do their thing.

Flamini has had a massive season so far and I think a trophy would crown what has been a huge success. 

VIDEO: Arsenal Target Scores Late Winner But Plays It Cool

Mario Balotelli is a player who splits opinions across the footballing world. His off-field antics while at Manchester City caused him to pick up a hero status to those not associated with the club, but those who paid money to watch him couldn’t help but feel frustrated with him on the whole. He’s a player who does what he wants, when he wants and he isn’t afraid to let people know how he’s feeling, and that was the case last week when he was reduced to tears after being substituted off in Milan’s recent 3-1 loss to Napoli.

Whatever the reasons for the Italy international crying, it was tough to watch. Arsenal fans will have been hoping that they were tears of frustration as they have seen their club linked with a move for him since the new year, but he was back to his best this weekend as he snatched the match winner at the death.

Balotelli is a talented player and he just needs someone to tempt that out of him, something with Clarence Seedorf seems to be doing.

with 87 minutes on the clock against Bologna, Balotelli received the ball to feet in a position which looked safe enough for the visitors. However, the striker lashed the ball on the half volley from distance and it ended up in the back of the net.

Did he celebrate though? Well, postmen don’t celebrate sending letters, do they?

Arsenal fans should be watching this in excitement. 

Giroud Isn’t Good Enough To Lead Arsenal To The Premier League Title – Opinion

Arsenal are notably short in the striker department – I don’t think there are many people arguing about that. Despite the fact they have topped the Premier League for the vast majority of the season, the Gunners have now slipped to second and could fall even further if Manchester City win their game in hand. A big part of Arsenal’s season has been Olivier Giroud, who started the campaign in blistering form, but I am going against the grain here and am going to suggest that he is not good enough to lead the line for the Gunners if they want to win the league next season.

Don’t get me wrong, I rate the France international. However, I don’t think he is in the same class as the likes of Manchester City’s Alvaro Negredo or Sergio Aguero, and I also think he falls short of quality in terms of those who I think will be competing for the title next year.

Liverpool have 23-goals Luis Suarez and 16-goal Daniel Sturridge, while Manchester United have Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, and I rate all of the above higher than Giroud.

He lacks agility, he struggles to take control in the big games and is often found lacking in the technique department, and I think if they are to overcome the challenge next season then at best he will have to be second choice to a new forward.

I also think Chelsea will strengthen their frontline in the summer, quite considerably too, so my message to Arsene Wenger is to act fast in order to bring in a new, world class centre-forward.  

Jay O’Malley

Liverpool Chasing Defensive Duo, But What Could They Offer?

Brendan Rodgers has made it clear regarding the way he likes to set up his sides. As well as a desire for silky, well-thought out football, he has injected a wealth of youth into the side and he has certainly reaped the rewards of that, with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge shining this season.

He is apparently after another two, as well, as the Daily Mail say that the Reds boss is chasing Nottingham Forest centre-back Jamaal Lascelles and Sheffield United’s Harry Maguire who plays in the same position.

Chances are you don’t know much about the pair, so I have done some digging and combined it with what I already knew about them.

Both are English centre-backs and both are 20 years of age. They also share a style of play – both players are notably tall and are naturally strong, and although Maguire is a little more aggressive than Lascelles they are both players who like to play out from the back.

Maguire knows where the goal is, too – the former Barnsley defender has scored six for United this season.

I think if there is one Premier League club that the pair could thrive at, it’s Liverpool, as Rodgers certainly knows what he’s doing in that sense.  

 

Why Chelsea Won’t Win The Premier League This Season

Looking at the Premier League table makes interesting reading. Although Arsenal have topped the English topflight for most of the season it is their London rivals Chelsea who currently sit at the helm, with Manchester City and Liverpool making up the top four. City hold a game in hand over Chelsea however and will go top with a win thanks to their superior goal difference. I think Jose Mourinho’s side will blow it as well. Here’s why.

Teams at the bottom of the league know that their defence will determine whether or not they retain their Premier League status – it’s been the case for years. At the top though it’s very much the amount of goals you can score, rather than the number you concede, and for me Chelsea hold one of the weakest selection of strikers from the top eight.

With Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o the only real options for the Blues it’s a surprise to me that they currently top the league. However, their midfield is crammed with talent and the likes of Eden Hazard have so far made up for that.

Manchester City have a wealth of options up top – Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko have are all well into double figures this season and Stevan Jovetic is starting to come into his own, while Liverpool also have a couple of goal-getters up top.

Luis Suarez has scored 23 league goals already and Suarez isn’t far behind with 16, while Chelsea’s top scorer, Eto’o, is currently on six.

Their defence is the main reason they are top of the league, but I think City will start to pull away soon enough.  

Heartbroken: Liverpool Star Struggling After Arsenal Loss But Can Hold His Head High

Modern day football isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. How many times have we heard fans complaining about over-paid players who show no passion? Well that certainly wasn’t the case yesterday when Daniel Sturridge, who was moved to tears after Liverpool fell to a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal in the FA Cup fifth round, was being consoled by Gunners full-back Kieran Gibbs.

The Liverpool forward has been in fine form this season – scored 19 goals in 22 games in all competitions this season and has been a huge reason why the Reds sit so high up the table, but he was guilty of spurning a number of chances during the tie.

He also took to Twitter to show his frustrations, claiming he was heartbroken.

For me it was nice to see.  Not that he was visibly upset, but because in an age where we are used to players swapping shirts, I’m looking at you, Andre Santos, and others asking for autographs *cough* Riise *cough* despite being on the receiving end of a defeat, it’s good to see that there are some who still are genuinely hurt by losses.

No grudges will be held against the England international as he has been such a success for Liverpool this season, and I think the simple show of emotion will have won him many fans who are not affiliated with the club.

In my eyes Sturridge can hold his head up high.

Liverpool Linked With Manchester United Reject – Player Report

The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United is an intense one. The two clubs’ level of hatred towards one another is enough for most players to not even contemplate a move directly from one to the other, but there are a few who have represented both outfits.

It could be the case this summer, too, as according to talkSPORT the Reds are after Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler, who was let go by United after five years without playing a game.

Now one of the most exciting shot-stoppers in European football, the 25-year-old endured a tough time at Old Trafford. Although highly rated by the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, a long-term injury meant he never got the chance to progress as he would have liked.

It’s a different story now though. The Germany international and has 21 appearances to his name this season and three clean sheets, though that total would be more if he had an established backline in front of him.

He makes an average of 2.38 saves per game, has a 96% claim success and averages 1.35 saves per goal.

He’s a commanding keeper who knows how to organise those around him, and for me if Liverpool were to snap him up it’d be a good move, regardless of his former alliances.