THE DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER – Is there more to it than meets the eye?

September 25, 2014

Yesterday when commenting on Chas’ report on the game against Southampton, I made the comment that I would have liked to have seen how Francis Coquelin would have performed in the holding midfield role.

My reasoning for this comment is that I feel the holding midfield role is a highly important cog in our wheel with regard to our current squad and best formation, or at least what I consider, and reading between the lines, maybe what Arsene considers to be our best formation. It is also an area where I feel we are currently lacking in top level quality and would need an upgrade in if we want to compete for the top prizes with the best in England and Europe.

RA in response to my comment said the following :-

Forgot to mention, GB, that we or that is to say you – should as a group, or you as an individual should define what you mean by a ‘holding midfielder’.
To me a HMF is not the same as a ‘beast’ of a DMF (defensive), much as I like dislike the term ‘beast’, and should be someone who links the central defense and the forwards, and to do that should break up play, and pull the strings when we are attacking.
The trouble is many will see that as a No.10s role, or the guy who ‘sits in the hole’ behind the forwards, and maybe it is all of those things, so how you can say that Diaby, in particular, or Jack, or Rambo could not be such a player in that role, mystifies me.

So indeed I think firstly an examination and definition of what one considers to be a holding midfielder and what one considers is a defensive midfielder, and whether they are different or one and the same, is warranted.

RONALDO VIEIRA

To my mind the great PV4 has undoubtedly been our best player in the heart of midfield in recent times but how would you define him?

I would also like to also ask which players in our current squad do you see best fitting the above definitions and why? In addition do you feel we have adequate strength and quality in these defined roles or do you feel we need to bring in a player of greater quality? If so who would you prefer and how would you view them in terms of the definitions of holding or defensive midfielder.

Over to you A.A’ers.

Written by GoonerB


An Arsenal Blast from the Past No. 14 Arsenal’s FA Cup Final History

May 16, 2014

Original FA Cup 001

Tomorrow Arsenal plays Hull City in their record eighteenth FA Cup Final appearance; they are tied with Manchester United. Hull City will be making their first appearance.

Here is a brief accounting of our Cup Final appearances.

 

1926-1927 – Arsenal vs Cardiff City

Arsenal’s first final, but sadly we lost 0-1 and it’s the only time the FA Cup left England.

This was also the first time that there was community signing at a FA Cup Final.

The tradition of signing “Abide with Me” which was written in 1847 by a vicar from Devon also had its debut performance.

FA Cup Song Sheet 1927 001

 

1929-1930 – Arsenal vs Huddersfield Town

Our first FA Cup victory, and first ever trophy, we won 2-0 on goals by Alex James and Jack Lambert. This was the start of one on our most successful decades, we were led by Herbert Chapman undoubtedly the greatest Manger of his time and arguably Arsenal’s best ever Manager. The Final was interrupted by a fly over of the German airship Graf Zeppelin.

 

1931-1932 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our second loss we were beaten 1-2 with Bob John scoring our only goal.

In the thirty eighth minute with Arsenal winning 1-0 Newcastle attacked down the right wing, a long pass appeared to go over the line but it was hooked into the middle and they scored an easy equaliser. The linesman was ninety feet away and the referee sixty feet but the referee still gave Newcastle the goal. Newsreel confirmed that the ball had crossed the line.

 

1935-1936 – Arsenal vs Sheffield United

Our second victory we won 1-0 with Ted Drake scoring our goal.

Having won the League Championship three seasons in a row we now added our second FA Cup to our trophy collection. Herbert Chapman had died suddenly two years earlier and George Allison was now our manager. It was our sixth success in League and Cup in seven seasons.

 

1949-1950 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our third victory we won 2-0 with Reg Lewis scoring both goals.

This was the era of the Compton brothers, Denis and Leslie, both were famous footballers and cricketers. They played in both sports for England with Leslie not making his football debut for England until he was thirty eight years old.

 

1951-1952 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our third loss we were beaten 0-1.

Newcastle became the second club to win the Cup in successive years after Blackburn Rovers in 1890 and 1891. Arsenal was down to ten men in the thirty fifth minute after Wally Barnes was injured, Newcastle scored the only goal of the game six minutes from time. Winston Churchill made the Cup presentation to Newcastle; he is the only Prime Minster to have made the presentation at Wembley.

 

1970-1971 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our fourth victory we won 2-0 with goals by Eddie Kelly and Charlie George.

Bertie Mee Double 001

This was indeed Red Letter day for Arsenal, having won the League Championship at White Hart Lane the victory secured our first League and Cup double. We were drawn away in every round of the competition and needed a replay to beat Leeds United in the semi-final. Charlie George scored his unforgettable winning goal from twenty five yards out in the twenty first minute of extra time.

 

1971-1972 – Arsenal vs Leeds United

Our fourth loss we were beaten 0-1.

This was a disappointing day for Arsenal but it set up the first stage of the “Double” for Leeds. They went to Wolverhampton just forty eight hours later needing only a draw to clinch the League Championship but to their disappointment they lost 2-1.

 

1977-1978 – Arsenal vs Ipswich Town

Our fifth loss we were beaten 0-1.

This was the fiftieth Cup Final and Arsenal was the odds on favourites to win their fifth FA Cup but Ipswich, managed by Bobby Robson, had other thoughts. They reduced Arsenal to nothing more than a supporting role and won the game with a goal in the seventy sixth minute but they also hit the post or bar on three other occasions.

 

1978-1979 – Arsenal vs Manchester United

Our fifth victory we won 3-2 with goals by Brian Talbot, Frank Stapleton and Alan Sunderland.

The game was described as the “Five Minute Final” a routine heavy weight bout with a finish that matched the “Matthews Final” in raw excitement. Arsenal led 2-0 with less than five minutes remaining when Manchester United scored two goals in 115 seconds. Extra-time appeared inevitable until Liam Brady, who was the architect of Arsenal’s first two goals picked up the ball straight from the re-start. He passed to Graham Rix, on the left, who centered to Alan Sunderland and he slid the ball into the net for the winning goal.

 

1979-1980 – Arsenal vs West Ham United

Our sixth loss we were beaten 0-1.

One of the most disappointed Arsenal fans on this day was GunnerN5 – I drove, on my own, four hundred miles through the mountains from Coeur D’Alene, Idaho to Cranbook, British Columbia. I had booked a hotel room in Cranbrook as the game was not being shown in the USA. Even a bottle of Macallan could not mask my disappointment and the return journey, the next day, was one of the longest and loneliest drives of my life.

 

1992-1993 – Arsenal vs Sheffield Wednesday

Our sixth victory we won 2-1 with goals by Ian Wright, Wright, Wright and Andy Linighan.

Arsenal became the first club to win both the FA Cup and the League Cup in one season but Sheffield United would prefer not to talk about that as they were the team that lost to Arsenal in both Finals. Andy Lineghan headed home the winning goal from a Paul Merson corner kick in the last minute of extra time

 

1997-1998 – Arsenal vs Newcastle United

Our seventh victory we won 2-0 with goals by Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka.

arsene-wenger_double

Arsenal finally beat Newcastle in a FA Cup Final having lost to them in both 1932 and 1952. This was Arsene Wengers first full season as Arsenal manager and he ended the season with a fist full of silver after winning both the FA Cup and The League Championship to secure Arsenals second “Double” season.

 

2000-2001 – Arsenal vs Liverpool

Our seventh loss we were beaten 1-2 with Freddie Ljungberg scoring our only goal.

Arsenal dominated the game but Liverpool came from behind to win 2-1, thus winning the FA Cup for the sixth time. It was the second trophy of their treble-winning season of 2000–01: they had won the Football League Cup in late February and would win the UEFA Cup four days later. As well as being the first FA Cup Final to be staged outside of England, it was also the first in which the managers of both teams were from outside the British Isles – Liverpool’s Gérard Houllier and Arsenal’s Arsène Wenger both coming from France.

 

2001-2002 – Arsenal vs Chelsea

Our eighth victory we won 2-0 with goals by Ray Parlour and Freddie Ljungberg.

Ljungberg, having also scored in the 2001 final, became the first man to score goals in successive FA Cup Finals since Tottenham Hotspur’s Bobby Smith, who scored in 1961 and 1962. The match took place with one week remaining in the Premier League calendar for the 2001–02 season. Arsenal were in first position, but still needed a point from their final two games to secure the championship, which they achieved in their next match with victory over second-placed Manchester United. It was Arsene Wengers second and Arsenals third League and Cup double.

 

2002-2003 – Arsenal vs Southampton

Our ninth victory we won 1-0 with Robert Pires scoring the only goal.

The Gunners won their second Cup in 2 years with a dominant performance over Southampton. The gulf in class between the 2 teams was not evident in the score line as Arsenal won by the single goal, a scrambled shot by Robert Pires. The last 7 minutes of the game saw Arsenal retain almost constant possession accompanied by a string of cheers from their supporters. Southampton had a mere 2 chances to score. the last of which came in the dying seconds as Ashley Cole saved the day with a goal line clearance.

 

2004-2005 – Arsenal vs Manchester United

Our tenth victory we won a penalty shootout 5-4 with Patrick Vieira scoring the decisive penalty.

The game was dominated by Manchester United who did everything but score a goal, Arsenals defence was stubborn to the end and forced the game into a penalty shootout.

Van Nistelrooy took the first penalty for Manchester United, in front of the United fans, and sent Lehmann the wrong way to give United the early advantage. Lauren then converted the next penalty for Arsenal, before Scholes stepped up to take United’s second, only to see it saved by Lehmann, diving low to his right. The next six penalties were all scored – Ljungberg, Van Persie and Cole for Arsenal, Ronaldo, Rooney and Keane for Manchester United – leaving Vieira with the opportunity to win the FA Cup for Arsenal in his last match for the club before moving to Juventus. Although Carroll guessed the correct way to dive, Vieira’s kick was just out of his reach, giving Arsenal their 10th FA Cup. Manchester felt aggrieved to have lost a game where they outplayed Arsenal – but frankly who gives a damn?

 

2013-2014 – Arsenal vs Hull City

The game is still to be played.

The Cup is still to be raised.

The story is still to be written.

FA Cup Trophy

 

GunnerN5


The return of the prodigal son… yeah, but which one ?

December 19, 2013

While we (still) sit pretty on top of the league, between two fixtures against sides that more than one Nostradamus-wanna-be pundit would have seen ahead of us by the end of the year, many attribute this success to the managerial consistency/continuity. But if the recent rumors of Arsène Wenger finally putting pen to a new three year contract in January will have fans rejoice about the stability ahead, the fact that Le Professeur will be 67 by the end of it has people start to consider a successor to the Frenchman (some started a while ago but they obviously have poor judgement so we won’t pay attention to them).

There’s a plethora of great coaches around, people with impressive careers and their bags full of trophies. But with The Arsenal’s tradition of welcoming back its former legends to see them work for the glory of the club, it is tempting to put the spotlight on these once top, top quality players and choose among them the One that is to lead us upon to the next chapter of our history.

Doing so would also ensure a relative continuity and is especially tempting due to the recent actuality seeing a lot of these aforementioned legends coming out, One about his hopes towards club and board, One about his views on the British coaching community and its segregation problem, One with a book, One with a documentary, and so On, I mean on.

I chose from the squads up until the Invicibles, considering most of those who came after are still playing. And with the idea of continuity in mind, I decided to choose only among the players that played under Arsène Wenger. So here you have it, among the players that graced the red and white shirt from 1996 to 2004 is the One. Pretty limited you will say, also considering that not every player, not even every great player, is coach material (that’s what club ambassador posts are for), and yet there is still quiet a few noticeable names that come out. So without further ado, here are the contenders.

Patrick Vieira (37) – The “Demolition” One

I will start with the One at the origin of this poll idea. Paddy’s declaration, though probably taken out of context by the media, about Arsenal’s lack of leadership threw discord among fans with some of them stating he was dead to them while others affirming their love for him, adding that they would be glad to welcome him back at the Arsenal, possibly as a coach.

Considering Patrick Vieira was only appointed as Manchester Shitty’s new reserve team and “Elite Development” (*Cough* what a load of crap) squad manager in May, it is still early to judge his managerial credentials. But, eager to find more so that you have all the information you need to make your judgement, I crossed the enemy lines to gather some intel. Yes, I went on the Shitty web site, looked through their video archives and finally got my hands on the Inspector Gadget’s post nomination interview. What I wouldn’t do for you guys. Paddy, it’s all on you !

To make it short, a few things popped out. The love of collective football he says he retains from his early age, playing with friends. The sense of responsibility he wants to instill in the young players as well as a winning mentality. For that last One, reflecting on Paddy’s declaration that he thought “Arsenal lacked what it takes to win dirty”, we all know what he means. And I for One am a little worried someone like him could coach the team, because that is so not Arsenal.

Dennis Bergkamp (44) – The “Godly” One

Here again it is hard to gauge Dennis Bergkamp’s managerial career. Slightly ahead of Vieira for he has already been in charge of a youth team and is now assistant manager of a team of the importance of Ajax Amsterdam, it is also good to note that the head coach under whom he is working, Frank DeBoer, is considered as One of the ascending talents of European football management. Undertaking the rebuilding of the mythical Dutch club, DeBoer has won three league titles in two and a half years at the helm. Learning from the mistakes that saw Ajax disappear from the European scene for a while, he is betting on youth and has revolutionized their academy. No doubt, seeing these methods baring fruit, Bergkamp could be tempted to consider them for his yet in gestation managerial style. That plus his Total Football education, Stillness, Speed, and the love for Attack he shared with Wenger and you might get a glimpse at what Iceman as a manager could look like.

Unfortunately, Bergkamp could have also been named the “Non-flying” One. And as long as his aerophobia problem isn’t solved, it is hard to see him appointed head coach of a team playing European football year in year out.

Tony Adams (47) – The “There’s only One Tony Adams” One

Mr Arsenal had an amazing career as an Arsenal player. He is the only One to have captained a major club in three different decades, and to the first League Cup and FA Cup double in England. He is One of the “Famous Four”, the back four that made the fame of the Arsenal offside trap. On his way to redemption after alcoholism blighted his career, Big Tone is a deep an attaching character. “In March 2003, BBC Sport named Adams as the former Arsenal player that the club would most benefit from returning” (Wikipedia). And he wants to return ! In June of this year, Adams said he had postulated to enter the board only to be snubbed and see Chips nominated. Now a board position isn’t exactly a coach position (not even close actually) but Tony clearly stated he would do anything at the club, even the tea, so I guess that also means head coach. At the same time he suggested Arsenal was ill prepared in case Arsène Wenger decided to leave. Very subtle.

Unfortunately, like mentioned above, not every great player makes a great coach. And with an average record of 27.73% wins in his three different spells as a manager, and a habit of quitting or being laid off within a year, Adams isn’t exactly in the league of an Arsenal coach contender.

Steve Bould (51) – The “Baldy” One

“He has no hair, but we don’t care ! ” Another of the “Famous Four”, Steve Bould has already an interesting managerial career to show off. Appointed head coach of the Academy team, he won two Premier Academy League and a FA Youth Cup. He knows the young guns and they know he can lead them to victory. How’s that for continuity ? Assistant Manager since last season, Bould bolstered our defense. His style might be very different from Arsène’s attacking style, but the same way, as an assistant, he complemented the Frenchman’s style, the appointment at his side of a Dennis Bergkamp could do the trick. Steve Bould would also undoubtedly provide the most seamless transition but One might argue that Arsenal needs to evolve.

For all of these reasons, Bould may look like the ideal candidate, and yet there might be another One…

Arsène Wenger (64) – The “Invicible” One

Who said 67 is too old for a manager ? Especially One gifted with such cunning intelligence, meaning that even if his body couldn’t move anymore, his head would still be able to win a few league titles and the Holy Champions League Grail.

Another thing, Arsène is nothing like Ferguson and he would certainly not quit while the club is still under reconstruction. Because the record signing of this summer was only the start. The “German speaking” Öne, as we could also have named him, is the reason why Mesut signed and, let’s face it, this Bizarre Sex Appeal is his and his only. If he keeps signing top, top quality players during the next three years, will he then leave like Red Nose after BSR followed his siren chant up north ? I believe not, because Arsène isn’t after legend, he is after Legacy.

Here are the candidates.

SO FELLOW GOONERS, WHO AMONG THE FORMER GUNNERS WOULD YOU SEE AS BEST FIT TO BE THE NEXT ARSENAL COACH ?

You can vote for up to 3 choices in the poll

I apologize to those of you who were hoping for more nostalgic faces, but feel free to add any suggestion in your comments. Same thing for any player you feel should have been on this list. I also apologize for the post kind of answers to itself but I look forward to standing corrected in the comments. Let the debate begin !

Written by Benjamin Rochet


Vieira, Leadership and Nonsense

December 10, 2013

I am an occasional peruser of Newsnow’s Arsenal page. For those of you not familiar with Newsnow, it’s a website that pulls together any and all current stories on a wide range of topics, updated every few minutes.

If you’re financially minded you can visit its Business pages; if digital is your thing you might go to the Technology pages; if you like comedy you can drop in on the Tottenham Hotspur page.

But, naturally, it’s the Arsenal page that is in my bookmarks.

So imagine my surprise yesterday when I started browsing said page only to encounter a barrage of headlines saying that one of our erstwhile sons – a former Invincible, no less – was slagging off the current Arsenal team.

These were some of the headlines:

Vieira Says Arsenal Lack Leadership.”

Vieira: Arsenal Lack Leadership to Win PL.”

Patrick Vieira Undermines Arsenal’s Title Bid By Suggesting Gunners Are Not Capable of Winning Ugly.”

Apparently our former captain trotted out the well-worn complaint that today’s Arsenal lacks the sort of natural leaders that were sprinkled throughout the Invincibles era team like raisins in a bagel: Keown, Adams, Campbell, Bergkamp and, of course, Vieira himself.

It’s always a bit disappointing to see one of our old heroes having a pop at the current crop of Arsenal players (or indeed the manager).

Arsenal /Leicester City-

But, reading the full story of the Vieira comments, a couple of things sprang to mind.

First, we have to remember that although he may have been one of our greatest heroes while in an Arsenal shirt, Patrick Vieira now happens to work for one of our rivals, Manchester City. (His current role is “Reserve Team Manager” which, at City, must be quite amusing: most reserve team managers have to coach a bunch of has-beens, kids and returning crocks. Vieira presumably manages a reserve team worth more than the gross national product of some countries).

So, as someone currently representing a rival – a rival we’ll be playing this weekend – we should not necessarily expect him to be bigging up the Arsenal, regardless of his history with us.

But, more importantly, I read that the Vieira comments came as part of a documentary that will air tonight on ITV4. It’s called Keane and Vieira: The Best of Enemies and brings together the two great midfield hard men of their generation to reminisce about those happy days when maiming opponents and picking fights in the tunnel was looked on as high spirits.

The documentary is more than an hour long and I can tell you that sixty-minute documentaries do not get made overnight.

In fact it usually takes a minimum of three months to get one from pre-production to broadcast (the editing alone for a one-hour programme can be up to six weeks).

So it is reasonable to assume that whatever comments Paddy makes in the film were made either very early in the season or even before the season began. The only reason they’re all over the press now is that the producers have a documentary to promote.

And it’s hard to argue with the fact that, looking back over the past few years from the perspective of this summer, Vieira would have had a point about our continuing problems with leadership and failing to win when playing badly.

But do you think Paddy would make those same claims if asked today about the Arsenal team of right now?

I don’t.

He would look at players like Vermaelen, Koscielny, Flamini, Ramsey and Arteta and accept that we do now – at last – have a decent crop of leaders.

And he would also acknowledge that, so far this season, we have been able to get results when not at our best.

So, fellow Arsenal supporters, let’s not get on our high horses about Vieira and his comments. They were almost certainly made quite some time ago and by someone who works for our opponents.

Nothing to see here, move along please.

As for the main theme of the ITV4 film – the rivalry between Vieira and Keane – I throw that over to you: who was the better player? Who was the more influential? And who was the harder?

RockyLives


Vote for the Next Arsenal Manager

November 22, 2013

Having a few minutes free I start as I often do  to consider life after Mr Wenger. Who doesn’t?

The man has been a stalwart but even he will have to let go at some point. SAF was approaching his dotage when he retired and my hope is that Mr Wenger will retire in time to enjoy the evening of his life. He is approaching 65 and it would not surprise me if he refuses to sign a longterm contract. In which case, let’s play the “Manager Game” …….

I have certain requirements; they must be Arsenal men, they must be under 50, they must be winners,and they must be comfortable with the press. So that rules out most chaps. But who could possibly take over?

Many of our ex-players have taken coaching badges over the past decade and as such can be considered.

1. Tony Adams. Don’t laugh. This is Mr. Arsenal we are talking about. He has PL and foreign managership experience, he has interesting views on Arsenal and football in general which could improve the club. He knows how to organise a defence and above all else TA is a winner. So why not? Well …..

2. Remi Garde. This little fellow is definitely in the frame. Currently manager of Lyons in France and a self-confessed Spurs hater. He has the experience and has already (according to the Redtops) been approached to be Director of Football at THOF.  He speaks fluent German as well so will be able to chat to our new signings.

3. Dennis. The people’s choice. Currently working at Ajax and doing his badges. Could DB10 really become an Arsenal manager? The flying is the first problem, then there is the doubt that he could ever be a Number One. I can easily see him as an assistant manager or a coach but The Big Man? Somehow I doubt it but it would be nice and he does look good in a suit!

4. TH14. Why not? The man is hugely intelligent, absolutely loves the club, has massive experience and an excellent understudying of tactics. A man motivator, brilliant with the media and a true Arsenal icon. Manager material? Why not?

5. Steve Bould. He certainly must be considered. He has been working his way through the manager ranks at Arsenal and now gets to learn from The Great Man. Has he the “nuts” for the job? Well, he would certainly command respect! Woe betide any player who dared diss him. He has done very well with the youth team and is well thought of by the club. Has he the gravitas to take over from AW? You decide.

6. Patrick Vieira. I have said for a few years that PV4 will manage Arsenal, he has everything we need; intelligence, leadership, the badges, media savvy, a love for The Arsenal and above all, he is a winner. It would be excellent if he could be the first black manager of a big PL club. Some say that his time at MC makes him a traitor and his criticism of some of our recent (last season) form was ill-judged but he is a man who speaks his mind and for that we should congratulate him – after all he was only saying what we all were!

7. Someone else. Now this is the most likely bet given the youth and inexperience of the above group.  It is likely that if AW retires next summer or in 2016/7, we will have another Bruce Rioch figure before the Arsenal man gets the gig. There isn’t anyone who comes to mind – Deschamps, Low, Klopp are unlikely to come – yes, I know, Klopp would be brilliant. OK …. just for you I will put him in the vote

8. Mr Klopp. Top bloke, superb at managing BD but who knows how he would fare in the PL.

So vote away …. you have 3 votes so we can get a clearer picture


Vote For Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Of The Modern Era

July 5, 2013

This must be the most difficult vote, three from the modern era of midfielders is nigh on impossible, whether its the legend of Rocky the strength and skill of Patrick, the sublimity of Pires or the goals of Ljungberg. To choose three from those four is difficult enough and then we add Parlour, Silva and Davis into the mix for good measure and not forgetting probably the best player to grace the Emirates Cesc Fabregas. Any three or four of those will make a decent midfield.

We did consider extending the vote to 4 players for this section but soon realised that in reality most of us would want 7 votes to make sure we voted for all of our favourites.

Look at this list of players and remember how lucky we have been as Arsenal fans, very few fans of rival clubs can boast anything near the quality we had in this era.

Note from ed……..

Apologies for the superfluous extra ‘s’ in Gilberto Silva


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 5

July 3, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we continue our quest for the greatest midfielders to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite midfielder by voting in the poll at the end of the week.

14. Paul Davis: 1978-1995.

Paul appeared in 447 matches over a 17 year period.

-Images-d-Davis_Paul_910810Born in Dulwich, London, Paul signed for Arsenal as an apprentice in 1977 and turned professional the following year, he made his debut in 1980 in a North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, and within a year he was a regular in the Arsenal side, as well as a member of the England U21 team.

He was a key member of the successful Arsenal side of the late 1980s, winning the League Cup in 1987 and the First Division in 1989 and 1991. Paul will arguably be best remembered for an incident in 1988 when, during a match, he punched Southampton player Glenn Cockerill in the jaw. Cockerill’s jaw was broken and following the FA’s analysis of TV footage he was given a then unprecedented 9-match ban and £3,000 fine.

In spite of a disagreement with Manager George Graham he still appeared 447 times for Arsenal, scoring 37 goals. Paul played in both the League Cup and FA Cup finals wins in 1993 as Arsenal chalked up their Cup Double. He also featured in Arsenal’s Cup Winners’ Cup win against Parma F.C the following year.

Paul was released by Arsenal on a free transfer in the summer of 1995. After leaving Arsenal, he briefly joined Norwegian side Stabæk Fotball in 1995 and flopped. He returned to London to join Brentford signing on a free transfer in September 1995, but he retired within a year after just five appearances for the Griffin Park side. He returned to Arsenal to become a youth coach in 1996, before leaving the club in 2003.

In September 2003 he joined The Professional Footballers’ Association coaching department. On 27 October 2005, he was invited to become assistant manager of Kettering Town F.C. by new manager Paul Gascoigne, he left Kettering at the same time as Gascoigne’s departure from the club on 5 December 2005, but continues to work for the Professional Footballer’s Association coaching department. He has studied and gained the FA and Pro UEFA Coaching awards, the highest coaching award in the U.K. along with his UEFA ‘A’ Licence and the FA Diploma in Football Management from Warwick University, as well as his coach educators awards. Paul is now a senior coach/coach educator for the organisation and he is also an ambassador for the ‘Kick It Out’ and ‘Show Racism the Red Card organisations’.

15. Ray Parlour: 1988-2004.

Ray appeared in 466 matches over a 16 year period.

cristiano-ronaldo-469-ray-parlour-celebrating-arsenal-goal-wearing-a-dreamcast-jersey-1992-2004Born in Barking, London, Ray is most famous for his time at Arsenal, where he played for 14 years. He joined Arsenal as a trainee in 1989, and made his debut for the Gunners against Liverpool in 1992. He was only used sporadically in his initial few years, and was more noted for his disciplinary problems; however he made 12 appearances for the England U21 team during this time.

His breakthrough came in 1994–95, when he played in Arsenal’s European Cup Winners’ Cup final loss to Real Zaragoza. However, his real development, as a player, only came to fruition after the arrival of Arsène Wenger as manager in 1996; he became a regular fixture playing on the right wing or in central midfield for Arsenal. In 1997–98 Arsenal won the Double and Ray proved to be instrumental; he was man-of-the-match in the Gunners’ FA Cup Final win over Newcastle United, that season, where he set up Nicolas Anelka for Arsenal’s second goal in a 2–0 win. He continued to enjoy success with Arsenal for another four years but generally received little acclaim in the media compared with many of his more illustrious Arsenal team-mates, especially as he was almost constantly living in the shadow of Patrick Vieira.

In March 2000, he hit a hat trick in a 4–2 away win at Werder Bremen in a UEFA Cup quarter final tie. Seven months later, he followed it up with another hat trick in a 5–0 demolition of Newcastle United at Highbury. In April 2001, he struck a spectacular 30-yard winner as Arsenal beat Valencia 2–1 in the UEFA Champions’ League Quarter Final 1st leg tie at Highbury. One of the crowning moments of his career was his goal from 30 yards in the 2002 FA Cup Final against Chelsea, which Arsenal won 2-0.  Another one of Ray’s finest moments in Arsenal colours came in November 2003, when as stand-in captain, he led Arsenal to a famous 5–1 win against Internazionale at San Siro. Performances like these have led many Arsenal fans to believe that he was one of the most underrated players at the club, and of his generation

In total, with Arsenal, Ray won three FA Premier League titles, four FA Cups, (which included two Doubles) one League Cup and one European Cup Winner’s Cup.

During his Arsenal career he was nicknamed “The Romford Pelé”; although the nickname was given with an ironic sense of humour, on account of his solid performance but unglamorous image.

He moved to Middlesbrough in mid-2004, (but he still has remained a fans’ favourite at Arsenal and was recently named the 19th greatest player in the club’s history), he played 60 games for Boro in two and a half years but he was released from his contract in January 2007.

For a brief period he trained with Arsenal in order to regain fitness with a view to finding a new club. On 9 February 2007, he signed for Hull City until the end of the 2006–07 season. After helping City avoid relegation, it was confirmed on 1 June that he was not offered a new contract and this meant he was released.

He made his England debut as a substitute in a Euro 2000 qualifier against Poland on March 27, 1999. He won ten caps for England but did not score any goals.

Ray emerged as one of the most influential players for The England Legends, a 16-man squad of former internationals who have played Italy, Germany, Scotland, Ireland and The Rest of The World.

16. Patrick Vieira: 1996-2005.

Patrick appeared in 406 matches over a 9 year period.

Born in Dakar, Senegal, his family moved to Dreux, France, when he was eight. He first played for AS Cannes, where he made his debut at the age of 17 and captained the team aged just 19.] In the summer of 1995, he was signed by the Italian team Milan, though he played mainly in the reserves and made only two first-team appearances.

patrick-vIn August 1996, he joined Arsenal, in a £3.5 million move, Patrick later revealed he signed for Arsenal because his compatriot Arsène Wenger was going to be the club’s next manager; Arsene was officially manager of Arsenal by the start of October. His performances for Arsenal in the subsequent months made him a fans’ favourite. He ended his first season with 38 appearances in total and Arsenal finished in third place, missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League via goal difference. His partnership with French international team-mate Emmanuel Petit the following season was instrumental in helping Arsenal complete a domestic league and cup double. After a successful 1998 World Cup campaign with the national team, Patrick had another productive season at Arsenal in 1998–99. Although Arsenal failed to retain the Premier League, Vieira’s endeavour was rewarded as he was named in the PFA Team of the Year.

Disciplinary problems beset Patrick during his time with Arsenal and it was feared that he was prepared to turn his back on English football as he felt victimised. Wenge, several Arsenal players and fans supported him publicly, amid speculation that Italian club Juventus were prepared to offer Vieira an escape route. However Patrick stayed and Arsenal finished second in the league for a third consecutive season and runners-up to Liverpool in 2001 FA Cup Final. He was later named the club vice-captain, to ensure he would succeed Tony Adams as captain. In the 2001–02 season; Arsenal regained the league and beat Chelsea in the 2002 FA Cup Final to complete a second double. In 2003, Patrick missed Arsenal’s title run-in, due to a knee injury, and they were overtaken by Manchester United who took first place. He was also ruled out of the 2003 FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won, but jointly lifted the trophy with captain for the day, David Seaman.

In spite of growing interest to sign Vieira, not least from Manchester United, Real Madrid and Chelsea in the summer of 2003, he agreed terms to stay at Arsenal and signed a deal which ran until 2007. The 2003–04 season was a successful one for Arsenal, as they reclaimed the league title and became the first English team in more than a century to go through the entire league season unbeaten. He endured a mixed start to the campaign, as he was sent off against Manchester United in September 2003, banned for one match and later fined £20,000. However he scored the opening goal against Tottenham Hotspur, in what ended a 2–2 draw which was enough for Arsenal to regain the title.  In the 2005 FA Cup Final, he scored the winning penalty in a penalty shoot-out after a 0–0 draw with Manchester United, which proved to be his final goal for Arsenal.

In July 2005, representatives of Juventus met with Arsenal, with a view to signing Patrick, and on 15 August 2005, he signed a five-year contract, in a deal worth £13.75 million, making his debut on 28 August 2005. Despite his performances dipping as the result of a persistent groin injury he helped Juventus retain the Scudetto, however Juventus were stripped of their 2004–05 and 2005–06 titles after it was revealed they were involved in a match-fixing scandal and were relegated to Serie B and had 17 points deducted.

On 2 August 2006, he officially signed a four-year deal for Internazionale. In his first season at Inter, he added to his trophy cabinet the Italian Super Cup as well as the 2006–07, 2007–08, and 2008–09 Serie A. On 6 January 2010, José Mourinho stated that Vieira had played his last game at Inter.

On 8 January 2010, he signed a six month contract at Manchester City and, subsequently agreed to a one-year extension. He made a late substitute appearance in May 2011, as City won the FA Cup with a 1–0 win over Stoke City at Wembley Stadium.

On 14 July 2011, he announced his retirement from playing and accepted a training and youth development role at Manchester City with the title of Football Development Executive.

Vieira made his debut for France and was part of the France squad in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He came on as a substitute in the final against Brazil, and set up Arsenal team mate Emmanuel Petit for France’s third goal in a 3–0 win. He, with the rest of the squad, was declared a Knight of the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest decoration, in 1998.

He subsequently played as a first choice midfield player in France’s successful campaign in Euro 2000, which they won, beating Italy in the final. He helped France to victory in the 2001 Confederations Cup, ending the tournament as joint top scorer with two goals, including the winner, a header, in the final against Japan. He also played in all three games in the 2002 World Cup, in which France were eliminated in the group stage, failing to score a goal. He was injured and missed France’s defeat to Greece at Euro 2004. He won a total of 107 caps for France, scoring six goals.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


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