Make or break for one member of the Arsenal Squad

July 21, 2013

Could the coming season be make or break for one member of our first team squad?

Jack 1

Jack Wilshere is regularly talked about as “The next big thing”, he’s expected to be the “Heart of Arsenal” and England. Football pundits and past England managers rave about his skill, his vision, his commitment and his growing strength.

Should we and others rein in our enthusiasm just a bit? Early promise led to comparisons with such luminaries as Liam Brady and Dennis Bergkhamp.

A regular on the Arsenal bench after an impressive pre-season in 2009, he was nonetheless loaned out to Bolton Wanderers in January and made 13 starts for Owen Coyle’s side and scored his first Premiership goal.

Jack flying

Back at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger gave him his chance and he became a regular in the Gunners midfield as well as becoming one of the first names in the national squad after his senior call-up to the England side in August 2010.

Sadly a foot injury sustained in the summer of 2011 eventually required surgery and an ankle problem further delayed his rehabilitation and ruled him out for the whole of that season.

Last season Jack had a frustratingly in/out campaign, and in the opinion of some observers, did not regain full fitness or get within reach of his potential. His last appearance came in the 0 – 1 away win, against Newcastle United in the season finale, as an 89th minute replacement for Santi Cazorla.

If the now 21 year old is to live up to his early promise it is vital that he quickly achieves, and maintains, his optimum fitness level. Little can be done about injuries and both his style of play and on-field position make it even harder to avoid them.

Jack scoring

There is no doubt that a fully fit and functioning Jack Wilshere brings a new dimension to the Arsenal and England midfield, we must all hope and pray that he is able to fulfil his potential and help both our club and the National side achieve success in the upcoming season.

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Arsenal’s Greatest Forwards – Vote (like we need one)

July 20, 2013

There won’t be too much doubt about the winner of this poll but you have three votes …… so the second and third places will be interesting. If you’ve missed reading the posts this weeks profiling all of these forwards have a look in the side-bar and click on Greatest Forwards 4,5,6 and 7.

Thank you to GunnerN5 for all his hard work in writing the profiles for the players we have given you during the past weeks and to Gooner in Exile for compiling the posts for us.

All the posts are available if you click on ‘Recent Posts’ in the side-bar.

As a point of admin we are leaving the votes open until 24th July, so if you haven’t voted yet….what are you waiting for.

After the votes are counted GN5 will be compiling our greatest squad of 20 or so players, and also a top 50 players result.


Arsenal’s Greatest Forwards – Day 7

July 19, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we will end our quest for the greatest forwards to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite striker, this weeks posts will bring us bang up to date and there will be a vote on Saturday.

19. Thierry Henry: 1999-2012.

Thierry appeared in 377 games over a 13 year period and scored 228 goals.

Thierry was born and raised in Les Ulis suburb of Paris which, despite sometimes being seen as a tough neighbourhood, provided good football facilities. As a seven-year-old, he showed great potential, and was recruited by the local club CO Les Ulis. He joined US Palaiseau in 1989, but after a year his father fell out with the club, so Henry moved to ES Viry-Châtillon and played there for two years.

In 1990, Monaco sent scout Arnold Catalano to watch Thierry, when he was just 13 years old, he scored all six goals in a 6–0 win. Catalano asked him to join Monaco without even having a trial first, later he joined Arsène Wenger’s Monaco as a youth player. Subsequently, he signed professional forms and made his professional debut in August 1994. Although Wenger suspected that Thierry should be deployed as a striker, he put him on the left wing because he believed that his pace, natural ball control and skill would be more effective against full-backs than centre-backs. He was named the French Young Footballer of the Year in 1996, and in the 1996–97 season when Monaco won the Ligue 1 title. By his third season, he had received his first cap for the national team, and was part of the winning team in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He continued to impress during his tenure with Monaco, and in his five seasons he scored 20 league goals in 105 appearances.henry arsenal

Thierry left Monaco in January 1999 and moved to Italian Serie A club Juventus for £10.5 million. He played on the wing, but found it difficult playing in an unfamiliar position against the Serie A defensive discipline, and scored just three goals in 16 appearances. Unsettled in Italy, he transferred from Juventus in August 1999 to Arsenal for an estimated fee of £11 million, reuniting with his former manager Arsène Wenger.  It was at Arsenal that he made his name as a world-class footballer. Brought in as a replacement for fellow French forward Nicolas Anelka, Thierry was immediately moulded into a striker by Wenger, a move that would pay rich dividends in years to come. However, doubts were raised about his ability to adapt to the quick and physical English game when he failed to score in his first eight games. After several difficult months in England he conceded that he had to “be re-taught everything about the art of striking”. These doubts were dispelled when he ended his first season at Arsenal with an impressive goal tally of 26. Arsenal finished second in the league behind Manchester United, and lost in the UEFA Cup Final against Turkish side Galatasaray. Despite recording fewer goals and assists than his first season, his second season with Arsenal proved to be a breakthrough, as he became the club’s top goal scorer. Armed with one of the league’s best attacks, Arsenal closed in quickly on perennial rivals Manchester United for the league title.

Success finally arrived during the 2001–02 season. Arsenal finished seven points above Liverpool to win the league title, and defeated Chelsea 2–0 in the FA Cup Final. Thierry became the league’s top goal-scorer and netted 32 goals in all competitions as he led Arsenal to a double and his first silverware with the club. 2002–03 proved to be another productive season for him, as he scored 32 goals in all competitions while contributing 23 assists, remarkable returns for a striker. In doing so, he led Arsenal to another FA Cup triumph, where he was man-of-the-match in the Final.  Even though Arsenal failed to retain their Premier League crown, he was named both the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year. His rising status as one of the world’s best footballers was affirmed when he emerged runner-up for the 2003 FIFA World Player of the Year award

In the 2003–04 season Thierry was again instrumental in Arsenal’s exceptionally successful campaign; together with team mates the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pirès, he ensured that the Gunners became the first team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten, claiming the league title in the process. He was named as the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year, for the second year running. With 39 goals scored in all competitions, he led the league in goals scored and won the European Golden Boot.

In the 2004–05 season he maintained his reputation as one of Europe’s most feared strikers as he led the league in scoring, and with 31 goals in all competitions, he was the co-recipient (with Diego Forlán) of the European Golden Boot. In mid-2005 Thierry became the Arsenal Captain. The 2005–06 season proved to be one of remarkable personal achievements for Thierry on 17 October 2005, he became the club’s top goal-scorer of all time; two goals against Sparta Prague in the Champions League meant he broke Ian Wright’s record of 185 goals. On 1 February 2006, he scored a goal against West Ham United, bringing his league goal tally up to 151, breaking Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin’s league goals record. He scored his 100th league goal at Highbury, a feat unparalleled in the history of the club, and a unique achievement in the Premier League. He completed the season as the league’s top goal-scorer, and for the third time in his career, he was voted the FWA Footballer of the Year.

In a surprise move Arsenal sold Thierry to Barcelona on 25 June 2007, for €24 million.

Henry left Arsenal as the club’s leading all-time league goal-scorer with 174 goals and leading all-time goal-scorer in Europe with 42 goals; in July 2008, Arsenal fans voted him as Arsenal’s greatest player ever in Arsenal.com’s Gunners’ Greatest 50 Players poll.

Following his time with Barcelona, he signed a four-year deal for a reported €6.8 (£4.6) million per season, with the Red Bulls of the MLS.

After training with Arsenal during the MLS off-season, Thierry re-signed for the club on a two-month loan deal on 6 January 2012. This was to provide cover for players participating in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. He made his second Arsenal debut as a substitute against Leeds United in the FA Cup third round and scored the only goal. In his last league game on loan, he scored the winning goal in stoppage time in a 2–1 win against Sunderland. 

Awards and honours:

Monaco:

Ligue 1 (1): 1996–97

Trophée des champions (1): 1997

Arsenal:

Premier League titles: 2001–02, 2003–04

FA Cup: 2002, 2003, 2005

FA Community Shield: 2002, 2004

Barcelona:

La Liga: 2008–09, 2009–10

Copa del Rey: 2008–09

Supercopa de España: 2009

UEFA Champions League: 2008–09

UEFA Super Cup: 2009

FIFA Club World Cup: 2009

New York Red Bulls:

MLS Eastern Conference: 2010

National:

1998 FIFA World Cup

UEFA Euro 2000

FIFA Confederations Cup2003

Individual:

UNFP Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year (1): 1996–97

PFA Players’ Player of the Year (2): 2002–03, 2003–04

PFA Team of the Year (6): 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06

FWA Footballer of the Year (3): 2002–03, 2003–04, 2005–06

Premier League Golden Boot (4): 2001–02, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06.

Golden Boot Landmark Award 10 (1): 2004–05

Golden Boot Landmark Award 20 (1): 2004–05

Premier League Player of the Month (4): April 2000, September 2002, January 2004, April 2004

Goal of the Season (1): 2002–03

UEFA Team of the Year (5): 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006

MLS Best XI (2): 2011, 2012

MLS Player of the Month (1): March 2012

Onze d’Or (2): 2003, 2006

European Golden Boot (2): 2003–04, 2004–05

French Player of the Year (5): 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

IFFHS World’s Top Goal Scorer of the Year (1): 2003

FIFA FIF Pro World XI (1): 2006

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): Germany 2006

FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball (1): France 2003

FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Shoe (1): France 2003

UEFA European Football Championship Team of the Tournament (1): 2000

FIFA 100: 2004

English Football Hall of Fame: 2008

A statue of Thierry statue stands outside the Emirates Stadium honouring him as one of Arsenal’s all time greatest legends.

20. Robin van-Persie: 2004-2012 

Robin played in 278 games over an 8 year period and scored 132 goals.

Robin was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The son of two artists, he was encouraged to follow in his parents’ footsteps, but he preferred football.

He joined Dutch side SBV Excelsior’s youth squad at the age of 14 years, but left at the age of 15 and signed for Feyenoord. He was quickly promoted into the first team due to injury problems among the squad, and made his debut for the club at 17, which was the first of 15 total starts. He received the KNVB Best Young Talent award at the end of the 2001–02 season and then signed a professional three-and-a-half-year contract the following season. Clashes with his manager Bert van Marwijk saw him demoted to the reserve squad, he finished his tumultuous debut season on the first team, making a total of 28 appearances and scoring eight goals, in addition to finishing runner-up in the KNVB Cup. Feyenoord unsuccessfully attempted to extend his contract during the off-season. His deteriorating relationship with van Marwijk led to his spending most of the 2003–04 season on the bench. He again played 28 matches, but finished with two fewer goals than the previous season.

On 17 May 2004, Robin signed a four-year deal with Arsenal for £2.75 million, just over half of Feyenoord’s original asking price of £5 million. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, who planned to convert him from a left winger to a centre forward, said of his new acquisition, “He can play on the left side of midfield, as a creative player behind the main strikers or as a target man. Robin spent most of his time on the bench during earlier parts of the 2004–05 season, and made his competitive debut on 27 October by scoring Arsenal’s opening goal in a 2–1 League Cup win over Manchester City. He was sent off for the first time, in an Arsenal shirt, on 26 February against Southampton, following a lunge at left back Graeme Le Saux, for which Wenger was seen yelling an obscenity at him from the sidelines. He then later lambasted him in the press stating “I do not support Van Persie today” Telegraph sportswriter Clive White described Van Persie in his match report as “21 going on nine.” He was consequently benched for a number of games, starting with Arsenal’s FA Cup replay against Sheffield United, and he was reintroduced into the squad only after Henry was out with a calf injury, his return to the first team saw him score twice in a FA Cup semi-final win over Blackburn Rovers. The rest of his season was cut short by injury, and he finished with ten goals in 41 appearances in all competitions. Robin’s good form at the start of the 2005–06 season earned him the Player of the Month award for November 2005 after eight goals in eight starts, and he was rewarded with a five-year contract extension until 2011. Two days after signing the contract, however, he was once again hit by injury when an opponent stepped on his foot and broke his toe during an FA Cup match.

The beginning of the 2006–07 season included an airborne volley against Charlton Athletic that Arsene called “the goal of a lifetime” and he was later named BBC Sport’s Goal of the Month for September, and he capped off the calendar year by being named the 2006 Rotterdam Sportsman of the Year. His season, however, ended early for the second time in his career on 21 January, when he fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. After the departure of Thierry Henry he assumed the role as Arsenal’s main striker. Following a streak of seven goals in ten regular-season games, he was sidelined for two months with a knee injury suffered on international duty. He made his comeback in Arsenal’s Champions League group stage on 12 December and made his Premier League return in the win against Chelsea over the weekend. However, he picked up a recurrent injury that kept him sidelined until January when he played 45 minutes in a League Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur. He was withdrawn at half-time following another injury scare and featured sporadically throughout the rest of the campaign. The following season (2008–09) he was named as the Arsenal.com Player of the Season. With only one year remaining of his contract, it was announced in July that he had signed a new long-term contract with his club, stating, “My heart is with Arsenal and I just can’t picture myself in a different shirt.”

On 14 November 2009, he injured his ankle in an international friendly and was initially expected to be out for six weeks, but further tests showed that he would be out for five months. Before the start of the 2010–11 season, his squad number was changed to number 10. He made his 200th appearance in August but an ankle injury suffered in the game placed him on the sidelines once again. He returned as a substitute for Arsenal’s

0–1 defeat to Newcastle United on 7 November.

BSROn 1 January 2011, he scored his first goal of the season in a 3–0 away win over Birmingham City. On 15 January, he added two more goals to his tally in a comfortable 3–0 win over West Ham. This made him only the fourth Dutchman to reach 50 goals in England’s top division. Robin scored his first career hat-trick in a 3–0 win over Wigan Athletic on 22 January and two goals against Newcastle United in a 4–4 draw on 5 February. Continuing his fine form, he hit a brace the following week against Wolverhampton Wanderers scoring both Arsenal goals in a 2–0 win including a volley from inside the box. The ten goals he scored between 1 January and 12 February set a new Premier League record for most goals scored in the first two months of a calendar year.

He set the Emirates alight with a goal from an almost impossible angle in Arsenal’s fight back against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 which ended 2–1 in favour of the Gunners. On 27 February 2011, Van Persie captained Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in the League Cup final, scoring the first half equalizer for the Gunners. It was his first goal at Wembley and his first in a cup final for Arsenal. However, he was later taken off in the second half with a knee injury he picked up while scoring the goal. He was voted as the second best player of the 2010–11 season on Arsenal’s official website and also received the team’s Goal of the Season award for his audacious strike in the 2–1 victory over Barcelona in the Champions League.

Having been appointed vice-captain for the 2010–11 season, he was promoted to club captain at the start of the 2011–12 season. He finished the season as the top goal-scorer in the Premier League with 30 goals, and became Arsenal’s 8th all-time top scorer with 132 goals.

On 4 July 2012, he announced that he would not be signing a new contract with Arsenal.

Finally after a series of rumours he was transferred to Manchester United for a reported £22.5 million. Supporters of Manchester United voted Van Persie as the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for the 2012–13 season.

Written by GunnerN5 and complied by Gooner in Exile


Arsenal’s Greatest Forwards – Day 6

July 18, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we will end our quest for the greatest forwards to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite striker, this weeks posts will bring us bang up to date and there will be a vote on Saturday.

17. Ian Wright: 1991-1998.

Ian appeared in 288 games over a 7 year period and scored 185 goals.

Ian was born in Woolwich, London. He came to professional football relatively late in life and despite having had trials at Southend United and Brighton during his teens, he was unable to attract sufficient interest to win a professional contract offer. Reverting to playing for amateur and non-league teams, he was left disillusioned about his chances of a career as a professional footballer.

A Crystal Palace talent scout, Peter Prentice, happened to see Wright playing for Dulwich Hamlet and invited him to have a trial at Selhurst Park. Having impressed then-manager Steve Coppell, he signed professional terms for Crystal Palace in August 1985, just three months short of his 22nd birthday. He quickly made his mark in his first season, scoring nine goals to finish as Palace’s second-highest scorer. When Mark Bright arrived on the Palace scene the following year the duo soon established a successful striking partnership and it was largely their goals which took the club to top flight via the playoffs in 1989. Ian was particularly instrumental that season, scoring 24 goals in the Second Division and a grand total of 33 in all competitions.

WrightA twice-cracked shin bone reduced his initial impact in the First Division. However, after recovering from the injury he made a dramatic appearance as a ‘super-sub’, in the 1990 FA Cup Final against Manchester United. He equalised for Palace a few minutes after coming onto the field forcing extra time, then putting them ahead in extra time. The eventual score was 3–3, but Palace lost the replay 1–0. The next season he gained full international honours, and reached a hundred goals for Crystal Palace.  Ian became renowned for his deadly striking ability, as shown when he scored a hat-trick in just eighteen minutes in Palace’s penultimate game of the 1990–91 season away to Wimbledon. He scored 117 goals in 253 starts and 24 substitute appearances over six seasons for The Eagles in all competitions.

Ian signed for Arsenal in September 1991 for £2.50m, which was at the time a club record fee. He scored on his debut against Leicester City in a League Cup tie, and then scored a hat-trick on his League debut against Southampton. He won the Golden Boot in his first season by scoring 29 league goals, five of which were for Palace, and 31 in all competitions. He scored a hat-trick in the final game of the season against Southampton; his third goal being the last ever scored in the old First Division. He went on to be Arsenal’s top scorer for six seasons in a row. He played a major part in the club’s success during the 1990s, winning an FA Cup and League Cup double in 1993; he scored in both the FA Cup Final and the replay against Sheffield Wednesday. Ian also helped Arsenal reach the 1994 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final, although he was suspended for the final in which Arsenal beat Parma 1–0.

The period that followed proved to be a difficult time for both Ian and Arsenal, manager George Graham was dismissed over illegal payments, and under caretaker Stewart Houston they could only manage a 12th place finish in the league. The arrival of Bruce Rioch heralded a bleaker time; the two did not get on and eventually Wright handed in a transfer request, which he later retracted. The arrival of Dennis Bergkamp heralded a brief but fruitful striking partnership, and in their first season playing together they helped Arsenal finish fifth in the league and qualify for the UEFA Cup. They also reached the Coca-Cola Cup semi-finals, where they went out on away goals to eventual winners Aston Villa.

By the time Arsène Wenger had arrived at Arsenal in September 1996, Ian was nearly 33. Despite his age, he continued to score regularly (being the second highest Premier League scorer in 1996–97 with 23 goals), and on 13 September 1997 he broke Cliff Bastin’s Arsenal goal scoring record with a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers. A couple of months later he suffered a bad hamstring injury which ruled him out of the club’s run-in to a League and Cup Double; he was named as a substitute in the cup final against Newcastle United but did not play. His final goal at Highbury came on 4 October 1997 against Barnsley and was his 300th career goal for both Crystal Palace and Arsenal. He scored his final goal for Arsenal on 6 January 1998 in a League Cup quarter-final victory against West Ham United.

On 15 July 2008, he finished 4th in 50 Greatest Gunners listed on the Arsenal website.

In July 1998, he moved to West Ham United for £500,000. He spent fifteen months as a West Ham player, scoring the winner on his debut against Sheffield Wednesday. During his spell there he made the headlines for all the wrong reasons when he vandalised the referee’s dressing room at Upton Park after being sent off during a match against Leeds United. He had subsequent short spells at Nottingham Forest, Celtic, and Burnley before retiring in 2000. He finished his club career with 313 goals in all competitions.

He made his for England under manager Graham Taylor in February 1991. He started in the 2–0 victory against Cameroon at Wembley and helped England reach the finals of Euro 1992 in Sweden. Despite the fact that his international career spanned eight years, 87 matches and three different full-time managers, he only started 17 times and was a used substitute in 16 matches.

While he was still a professional footballer at Arsenal, he published his autobiography, Mr Wright. In 1993, he wrote and released a single called “Do The Right Thing”. The song was co-written and produced by Chris Lowe (of Pet Shop Boys) and reached #43 the UK Singles Chart.

Shortly after his retirement from playing in 2000, Ian was awarded the MBE for his services to football.

18. Denis Bergkamp: 1995-2006.

Denis appeared in 423 games over an 11 year period and scored 120 goals.

Born in Amsterdam, Denis was the fourth of four sons. He was brought up in a working-class suburb; his father who was an electrician played amateur footballer in the lower leagues. He was named in honour of Scottish striker Denis Law but in order to comply with Dutch given name customs, an extra “n” was inserted into his first name, by his father, after it was not accepted by the registrar.

DB10He was spotted by Ajax and was brought up through their famous youth system, joining the club at age 11 and making his professional debut on 14 December 1986. He scored his first senior goal for the club against HFC Haarlem on 22 February 1987 in a match Ajax won 6–0. He went on to make 23 appearances in the 1986–87 season, including a European debut against Malmö FF in the 1986–87 European Cup Winners’ Cup, Ajax won the competition, beating Lokomotive Leipzig 1–0. In later seasons he established himself as a first-team player for Ajax. This culminated in a period of success for the club, which won the Eredivisie title in the 1989–90 season for the first time in five years. Denis scored 29 goals in 36 games the following season and became the joint top goal scorer in the league. Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup Final, beating Torino through the away goals ruling. He was the top scorer in the Eredivisie from 1991 to 1993, and was voted Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1992 and 1993. In total, he scored 122 goals in 239 games for his hometown club.

Denis attracted the attention of several European clubs as a result of his performances for Ajax. He was insistent on playing in Italy. as he considered Serie A “the biggest league at the time” and preferred a move to either Juventus or Internazionale, on 16 February 1993, he agreed a £7.1 million move to Internazionale and made his debut against Reggiana on 29 August 1993.  In his first two seasons at Internazionale, the club changed managers twice and Denis had a difficult time, troubled with stress injuries and fatigue from the 1994 World Cup, he only scored five goals in 26 appearances. Off the field, his relationship with the Italian press and fans became uncomfortable. His shy persona and his propensity to go home after matches was interpreted as apathy. Because of his poor performance on the pitch, one Italian publication renamed their award given to the worst performance of the week, L’asino della settimana (Donkey of the Week) to Bergkamp della settimana.

Denis left Internazionale and signed with Arsenal in June 1995 for a transfer fee estimated at £7.5 million. He became manager Bruce Rioch’s first signing at Arsenal and broke the club’s transfer fee record of £2.5 million. On the opening day of the 1995–96 league season, he made his full debut against Middlesbrough. He struggled to adapt to the English game and failed to score in the club’s next six league matches, prompting ridicule by the national press, he ended his first season with 33 appearances and a goal tally of 11.

The appointment of Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager in September 1996 marked a turning point in his career. Wenger, who had moderate success coaching in France and Japan, recognised his talent and wanted to use him as a fulcrum of the team’s forward play. Both were advocates of a continental style of attacking football, and Denis was happy with Arsene’s decision to impose a strict fitness and health regime. Despite making fewer appearances in the 1996–97 season, he was more influential in the first team, creating 13 assists. The following season he was instrumental in helping Arsenal complete a domestic league and cup double. He became the club’s top scorer with 22 goals and recorded a strike rate of 0.57.  In 1997/8 he was the recipient of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, becoming only the second foreign player to be recognised by his fellow professionals as the outstanding performer in English football.

After 3 seasons of finishing second more success finally came in the 2001–02 season. Arsenal regained the league, beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in the penultimate game of the season to complete the club’s second double under Wenger; Arsenal defeated Chelsea 2–0 to win the FA Cup four days prior. Denis played in 33 league matches, setting up 15 goals. After a 3 game red card suspension he made his return against Newcastle United on 3 March 2002. Early in the match, Arsenal midfielder Robert Pirès played a low pass from the left flank to Denis in the edge of the opponent area with his back to goal. Under pressure from his marker Nikos Dabizas, he controlled the ball with one flick and went around the other side before placing the ball precisely into the bottom right-hand corner to score. Arsene described the goal as “unbelievable”, adding “It was not only a magnificent goal but a very important one – I enjoyed it a lot”

Denis reached a personal landmark during the 2002–03 season, scoring his 100th goal for Arsenal against Oxford United in a FA Cup third-round tie. On 20 July 2003, he signed a one-year extension at the club. The 2003–04 season ended on a high point as Arsenal reclaimed the league title, becoming the first English team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten Champions League over two legs. He committed himself to Arsenal at the end of the season, signing a further extension to his contract.

The team finished fourth in the league in his final season at Arsenal. After much campaigning from Arsenal supporters, the club designated one of its Highbury match day themes, organised to commemorate the stadium’s final season as home of Arsenal, to Dennis Bergkamp. “Bergkamp Day” took place on 15 April 2006 It celebrated his contribution to Arsenal; fans were given commemorative orange ‘DB10′ T-shirts – the colour of his national team, his initials and his squad number. Denis came on as a second-half substitute and set up the winning Pirès goal moments after Nigel Quashie had levelled the score. Fittingly, his 89th-minute goal proved to be his last for Arsenal in competitive football.

He was the focus of the first match at Arsenal’s new ground, the Emirates Stadium. On 22 July 2006, a testimonial was played in his honour at the new stadium as Arsenal played his old club Ajax.

Denis made his international debut for the Netherlands national team against Italy on 26 September 1990. He was selected for Euro 1992, where his national team were the defending champions. Although he impressed, scoring three goals in the tournament, the team lost on penalties to eventual champions Denmark. In the qualification for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, hep scored five goals and was selected for the finals, staged in the United States. He featured in every game for the national team, getting goals against Morocco in the group stages and the Republic of Ireland in the round of 16.

Against Wales in the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification on 9 November 1996, he scored his first hat-trick for the national team. The Netherlands finished first in their group and qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, held in France. Denis scored three times in the competition, including a memorable winning goal in the final minute of the quarterfinal against Argentina. He took one touch to control a long 60-yard aerial pass from Frank de Boer, brought the ball down through Argentine defender Roberto Ayala’s legs, and finally finished by firing a volley with the outside of his right foot, past the keeper at a tight angle from the right, he described the goal as his personal favourite in his career.  His international career ended with 37 goals in 77 appearances.

In April of 2007, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame by viewers of BBC’s Football Focus. A year later, he was voted second by Arsenal fans behind Thierry Henry in a list of the 50 Gunners Greatest Players.

This is a summary of his achievements in chronological order:

Dutch Football Talent of the Year (1): 1990

Dutch Footballer of the Year (2): 1991, 1992

Eredivisie Top Scorer (3): 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93

UEFA European Football Championship Top Scorer (1): 1992

UEFA European Football Championship Team of the Tournament (1): 1992

World’s Top Goal Scorer of the Year (1): 1992

UEFA Cup Top Scorer (1): 1994

Premier League Player of the Month (4): August 1997, September 1997, March 2002, February 2004

PFA Team of the Year (1): 1997–98

FWA Footballer of the Year (1): 1997–98

PFA Players’ Player of the Year (1): 1997–98

Premier League Goal of the Season (2): 1997–98, 2001–02

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): 1998

FIFA 100

English Football Hall of Fame

His statue now stands outside Emirates Stadium honouring him as one of Arsenal’s legends. 

GunnerN5


Arsenal’s Greatest Forwards – 5th Day

July 17, 2013

AContinuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we will end our quest for the greatest forwards to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite striker, this weeks posts will bring us bang up to date and there will be a vote on Saturday.

14. Frank Stapleton: 1972-1981.

Frank appeared in 300 games over a 9 year period and scored 108 goals.

Frank was born in Dublin, he started his career with Arsenal, joining them in 1972 as an apprentice, after he was turned down by Manchester United. He made his first-team debut in 1975 against Stoke City, and went on to form a potent striking partnership with Malcolm Macdonald; the two scored 46 goals between them in 1976–77. He was Arsenal’s top scorer for the three following seasons, and helped the Gunners reach a trio of FA Cup finals; he scored one of the goals in Arsenal’s 1979 FA Cup Final 3–2 win over Manchester United, and scored 108 goals in 300 appearances in total for the Gunners.

gun__1340791845_stapleton_frank

Frank moved to Man United in 1981 for £900,000 (a fee set by tribunal after the two clubs could not agree). He helped United win the 1983 and 1985 FA Cups. It was in the first of those finals, when he scored against Brighton, in which he made history by becoming the first man to score for two different clubs in FA Cup Finals. He left United in 1987, after scoring 78 goals for the club in 365 matches.

He went on to play for Ajax Amsterdam, before returning to England with Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Aldershot, Huddersfield Town and Bradford City, where he spent three seasons after a brief period at Le Havre in France.

After being sacked as Bradford’s player-manager in 1994, he had a brief spell at Brighton & Hove Albion in the 1994–95 season, playing two games before finally announcing his retirement as a player.

He also won 71 caps for the Republic of Ireland, scoring a then record 20 goals. he made his international debut under then player-manager Johnny Giles in a friendly against Turkey in Ankara in 1976 at 20 years of age. He scored after only three minutes of his debut when he headed home a Giles free-kick at the near post. Frank was committed to international football insisting that an “international release clause” be inserted into all of his contracts so that he could be released to play in international games for Ireland. He played a significant role in Ireland’s attempt to qualify for the World Cup in Spain in 1982. However his goals against Cyprus, Holland and France in the qualifying matches were not enough as Ireland were denied a place at the World Cup by a superior French goal difference. He was made captain of the national team for the qualifying campaign for the 1986 World Cup though Ireland failed to emulate their fine performance in the 1982 qualifiers. Frank captained the Irish team to the 1988 Euro finals and played in all of their matches during the competition including Ireland’s famous victory against England.

Frank moved to the United States to coach Major League Soccer side New England Revolution in 1996. In the 2003–04 season he briefly returned to English football as a specialist coach of Bolton Wanderers. The Bolton manager Sam Allardyce wanted Stapleton to enhance the skills of the strikers at the club and saw the Irishman as an ideal candidate, given his successful playing career. 

15. Alan Smith: 1987-1995.

Alan appeared in 347 games over an 8 year period and scored 115 goals.

Alan was born in Hollywood, Worcestershire. Alan started his career at non-league Alvechurch in north Worcestershire. He then signed professional forms with Leicester City in June 1982. In his first season, he scored 13 goals in a psmithartnership with Gary Lineker, as the Foxes won promotion to the First Division. He spent five seasons at Leicester, scoring 84 goals in 217 appearances, before he was transferred to Arsenal in 1987.

During his time with the Gunners the team won all three major domestic trophies – two League Championships, the FA Cup, the Football League Cup (in their 1993 ‘Cup Double’) and in Europe the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. He scored the first goal in Arsenal’s League Championship winning victory at Anfield in May 1989, and the only goal of the 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final victory against Parma. He was Arsenal’s top scorer for four consecutive seasons, and the top scorer in the First Division in the 1988-89 season with 23 goals

In eight seasons at Highbury, he scored a total of 86 league goals, averaging at just over 10 goals per season. His first league goals for the club came on 29 August 1987, when he netted a hat-trick in a 7–0 game versus Portsmouth at Highbury. His last came on 12 December 1994 in a 2–1 win over Manchester City in the FA Premier League at Maine Road. As well as his goals in the 1989 title clinching game and the European triumph of 1994, he scored a hat-trick against Manchester United in the First Division on 6 May 1991.

He only received one yellow card throughout his entire career. He retired from professional football in July 1995. Several clubs, including Watford, had expressed an interest in signing Alan just before he announced his retirement from playing

He is currently a regular co-commentator and sometimes studio pundit for various television shows. In 2011 he commentated on the Champions League final alongside Martin Tyler. On June 30, 2011, EA Sports announced that Smith would replace Andy Gray as Martin Tyler’s partner in commentating in FIFA 12. This partnership continued in the subsequent instalment of the series, FIFA 13

Smith is married to his childhood sweetheart, Penny and they live with their two daughters Jessie and Emily.

16. Paul Merson: 1982-1997.

Paul appeared in 425 games over a 15 year period and scored 99 goals. 

Paul was born in Harlesden, North West London, and started his career at Arsenal, joining the club as an apprentice in 1984. After a loan spell at Brentford, then under manager Frank McLintock, he made his debut for the Gunners in November 1986 against Manchester City.

mersonGradually he established himself in George Graham’s successful Arsenal side of the late 1980s. By the 1988–89 season he was a regular on the right wing, at the end of which Arsenal secured the First Division title with a last gasp Michael Thomas goal in the final game of the season against Liverpool. Paul scored ten times that season; he made his debut for the England U21 side, and was voted PFA Young Player of the Year.

With Arsenal, Merson bagged another league championship in 1991, both the FA Cup and League Cup in 1993 (scoring equaliser in League Cup Final v Sheffield Wednesday) and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1994. He also made his debut for the full England side, in a friendly against Germany on 11 September 1991.

Paul’s career was put on the line in November 1994 when he admitted to being an alcoholic and cocaine addict. The Football Association arranged for him to undergo a three-month rehabilitation programme and he returned to the side in February 1995, just before the dismissal of George Graham as manager. Under caretaker manager Stewart Houston, he helped Arsenal reach the Cup Winners’ Cup final for the second season in a row.

In 1995–96, Paul remained a regular first team player under Arsenal’s new manager Bruce Rioch and continued to play regularly during the 1996–97 season following the appointment of Arsène Wenger. In a somewhat surprising move, at the end of the 1996–97 Premiership campaign, in which Arsenal finished third, Paul was sold to relegated Middlesbrough in a £5 million deal – making him the most expensive player ever signed by a non-Premiership club. Whilst Arsene Wenger had offered a new two year contract, Middlesbrough offered double the salary available at Arsenal.

In the autumn of 1998, Paul was sold to Aston Villa for £6.75 million after wishing to be nearer to his family in the South. Subsequently he signed for Division One club Portsmouth on a two-year contract, and was instrumental in the club’s promotion to the Premiership in 2002–03.

Paul first played for the England national team in 1991, being called up by Graham Taylor. He also participated in the 1992 European Championships in Sweden.  1998 marked the end of his international career after 21 full caps in seven years, in which he scored three times.

GunnerN5


Arsenal’s Greatest Forwards Day 4

July 16, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we will end our quest for the greatest forwards to include in our team.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite striker, this weeks posts will bring us bang up to date and there will be a vote on Saturday.

11. David Herd: 1954-1961.

David made 180 appearances over a 7 year period and scored 107 goals.

David was born in Hamilton but grew up in Manchester. He started his career at Stockport County and Soccer - League Division One - Arsenal New Signing - Highburymade his debut on the final day of the season, but his appearances  were limited by his national service duties. He scored five goals in 12 games in 1953–54 and he attracted the attentions of First Division clubs.

He did well enough to attract the attention of Arsenal, who signed him for £10,000 in 1954, and he made his debut on 19 February 1955 against Leicester City. David continued to be a bit part player, playing just eight games in his first two seasons at Arsenal, before making his breakthrough in 1956–57, scoring 18 goals in 28 games that season. From then on he was an established goal scorer, being the club’s top goal scorer for four season’s straight, from 1956–57 through to 1960–61 – when he scored 29 goals, the most by an Arsenal player since Ronnie Rooke. Despite being top scorer in 1960–61, he was unsettled at Arsenal due to their lack of success, and he moved to Manchester United in July 1961 for £35,000. Manchester United.

His first game for United came against West Ham United on 19 August 1961. He helped the club to the 1962–63 FA Cup, scoring two goals in the final itself against Leicester City. He also helped them to the 1965 and 1967 league championships and the 1967–68 European Cup. However, after he broke his leg in March 1967, his first-team appearances were limited, and he was not selected for the 1968 European Cup Final on 29 May 1968. In all, he scored 145 career goals in 265 appearances, an average of 0.54 goals per game. He also once scored past three different goalkeepers in one match on 26 November 1966 against Sunderland, as United won the game 5–0.

He left Manchester United in July 1968 for Stoke City on a free transfer. He played 39 games for Stoke in 1968–69 scoring nine goals as Stoke had a poor season narrowly avoiding relegation. In 1969–70 He made nine appearances scoring twice and was released at the end of the season. He then spent a short spell with Irish club Waterford.

He won his first cap for Scotland, on 18 October 1958 against Wales at Ninian Park; Scotland won 3–0. He won five caps in total for Scotland between 1958 and 1961, scoring three goals, his last cap coming in a 4–0 defeat by Czechoslovakia on 14 May 1961.

After retiring from playing, he had a stint managing Lincoln City between 1971 and 1972.

His 107 goals for Arsenal place he 16th on the all time list 

12. John Radford: 1962-1976.

John made 481 appearances over a 14 year period and scored 149 goals.

John was born in Hemsworth, Yorkshire. He joined Arsenal as an apprentice in 1962, turning professional in February 1964. He was a prolific goal scorer in the youth and reserve teams, before making his first-team debut against on 21 March 1964, his only appearance of the 1964-65 season. He played a little more the next season, playing 15 times, and became Arsenal’s youngest ever hat-trick scorer, against Wolves on 2 January 1965, at the age of 17 years and 315 days, a record that remains to this day. He played mostly as an inside forward or centre forward, and occasionally as a right-winger.

radfordBy the start of 1965-66 he was an Arsenal regular, and blossomed under the management of Bertie Mee; in 1968-69, although he had been moved out to the right wing, he scored nineteen goals and reached the 1969 League Cup final. As he peaked, so did Arsenal; in 1969-70 he again scored nineteen goals, and helped Arsenal win the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first trophy in seventeen years; John scored the second goal in Arsenal’s 3-0 win in the second leg of the final, which they won 4-3 on aggregate. By now, John had been moved up front again and continued to score regularly. The following season (1970-71) he scored 21 goals, his best single tally in a season, forming a partnership with Ray Kennedy that between them recorded 47 goals. With his goals, John was an instrumental part of Arsenal’s FA Cup and League Championship double-winning side, and his assists played an important role too; he set up Kennedy for the winning goal in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final replay win against Stoke City, and set up both Eddie Kelly and Charlie George for their goals in the Final against Liverpool.

John was now an England international, having already won four caps for the under-23 side. He made his full England debut in a friendly against Romania on 15 January 1969. However, he was not a favourite of England manager Sir Alf Ramsey and won only one further cap, against Switzerland on 13 October 1971; he scored in neither match. He continued to play for Arsenal through the early 1970s, scoring another 19 goals in 1972-73. However, his goal rate gradually reduced (only achieving single figures in 1973-74 and 1974-75) and he was injured in 1975-76, further restricting his appearances. By now, the partnership of Malcolm Macdonald and Frank Stapleton had become Arsenal’s first-choice attacking duo and John only played twice in the first four months of 1976-77.

Unable to keep a regular place in the side, he moved on to West Ham United in December 1976 for £80,000. After a year and 28 league appearances and no goals with the Hammers, Radford joined Blackburn Rovers in 1977. He was moderately successful with the Second Division side, scoring ten times in 38 league appearances. He left Rovers in 1978 and played for non-league Bishop’s Stortford before retiring. After retiring, he became a pub landlord, and enjoyed several spells as manager of Bishop’s Stortford in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

His 149 goals make him Arsenal’s fourth all-time top scorer.

13. George Armstrong: 1961-1977.

George made 621 appearances over a 16 year period scoring 68 goals.

Born in Hebburn, County Durham, George had trained as an electrician while playing in youth football, he was rejected by both Newcastle United and Grimsby Town, but nevertheless, he succeeded in joining Arsenal as a youth player in August 1961. He made his debut not long after joining the club; while still only 17, he started against Blackpool on 24 February 1962 in a match that Arsenal won 1-0 and by the 1963-64 season he had become a regular in the side, and in 1964-65 he missed only two matches.

Over his long career with the Gunners, George became one of Arsenal’s most consistent players, and was noted for the quality and accuracy of his crossing and corner kicks, as well as for his tireless running up and down the wing; he primarily played on the left, but was also effective on the right. As he matured, he became one of the few players of the Billy Wright era (along with Jon Sammels and Peter Storey) to become an integral part of Wright’s successor Bertie Mee’s Arsenal side, which ended the club’s long trophy drought.

After losing two successive League Cup finals in 1967-68 and 1968-69, George helped the Gunners win the 1969-70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the 1970-71 League and FA Cup double; he was a regular in the Double-winning team that season, setting up a number of goals for his team-mates, which included teeing up Ray Kennedy’s winning header against Tottenham Hotspur, in the match that won Arsenal the League title. He was also voted Arsenal’s Player of the Year in 1970.

George remained with the club through the 1970s, as Arsenal failed to win any further trophies after their Double win; he played at least thirty matches in each season he was at the club during that decade. However, after falling out with Mee’s successor, Terry Neill, he moved to Leicester City in the summer of 1977 for £15,000. He played only 14 League matches in his single season with the Foxes, and finished his career with Stockport County before retiring in 1979. After retiring from playing, he moved into coaching, and worked for a variety of clubs, including Fulham, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, QPR and Enderby Town (as manager), as well as FK Mjølner in Norway and was manager of the Kuwaiti national team between 1988 and 1989.

ArmstrongIn 1990, before the Iraqi invasion, he returned to England and joined Arsenal as reserve team coach, a post he remained at for the remainder of his life, despite the many managerial upheavals the club underwent. During his time at Arsenal he was responsible for bringing many young players through the Arsenal ranks, including Steve Morrow, Ray Parlour and Paul Dickov

Surprisingly for such a high-standing player, he was never capped for the full England side, despite plenty of youth and U23 caps; this was primarily because of England manager Sir Alf Ramsey’s policy of not using wingers.

He played in sixteen full seasons at Arsenal, most of them as an ever-present, at one time he held the club’s all-time record for appearances – 621 competitive first-team appearances, including exactly 500 in the league; his record has since been overtaken only by David O’Leary and Tony Adams. He also scored 68 goals for Arsenal.

On 31 October 2000, while conducting a club training session he collapsed after an unexpected brain haemorrhage; he died in Hemel Hempstead Hospital in the early hours of the following morning.

George had a pitch named after him at the Arsenal F.C. training ground, in London Colney

GunnerN5


Ramsey is Better Than Fellaini

July 15, 2013

It is probably wrong to give much (or any) credence to stories that emerge during this febrile period in the footballing year.

For example, the Higuain story has given birth to thousands of articles, comments, tweets and whatnot but – unless I have missed it – not a single word about the player had come from any official Arsenal source until Arsene Wenger responded to a journalist’s question during our Indonesia tour by accepting that the Argentine was the level of player for whom we could now realistically bid. Not that we were bidding for him, or even interested in him. Just that he was the kind of player we might be looking at.

One or two Arsenal players had earlier talked of “welcoming” the idea of  Higuain joining us – but what else are they supposed to say when asked by journalists about any world class player? “Sorry mate – not for me. He’s pants.”?

RamseySame applies to the Rooney and Suarez stories.

But, having said that, one piece I read recently did manage to particularly tickle my “irkometer” – it was the one that
suggested we were preparing to offer cash plus Aaron Ramsey to get Everton to part with the human microphone, Marouane Fellaini.

I sincerely hope this notion is as false as the vast majority of the other cobblers that has been reported so far this summer.

Or, to be more precise, I am perfectly happy with the notion of us signing Fellaini – just not at the expense of losing Ramsey.

Fellaini is clearly an effective player who would enhance our squad – not least with his height, physical presence and combative nature.

But Ramsey is a better technical player and will, I believe, emerge as one of the finest midfielders in the country over the next few years.

We all know his Arsenal history: snatched from under the bulbous red nose of a frothing Ferguson; an immensely promising start at The Home of Football; a horrendous injury inflicted by a moronic Stoke City Orc; a difficult period or readjusting to first team football; abuse from some Arsenal so-called fans who should have known better; the beginnings of redemption during our run-in to the season just finished, when Aaron’s commitment, skill and work rate were instrumental in helping us clinch fourth place ahead of the Forces of Spudness.

In the last 10 or so games of last season he started to show what he can offer to this Arsenal team and I am convinced he will get better and better. Eventually I see him as having something of the likes of Steven Gerrard, Bryan Robson, Ray Parlour and Brian Talbot about his game.

He may not catch the eye like a Brady or Fabregas, but his contribution will allow others to do just that.

He is also part of a strong core of young British players that will be at the heart of our next title-winning team, alongside the likes of Wilshere, Gibbs and Walcott.

So – gods of the Summer Silly Season – please let this particular rumour turn out to be the nonsense that it deserves to be.

RockyLives

 

 


Is The Arsenal getting less popular?

July 14, 2013

Some years back I wrote an article on the comparative popularity and visibility of the Arsenal in Asia. At that time we were a strong second or third after Manchester United so how has 8 trophyless years affected us? I have been lucky enough to spend the last eleven weeks travelling around SE Asia and New Zealand so I was keeping my eye open on where we stood now.

What I noticed that this time around there are a much smaller selection of shirts seen. Before there were the big four [United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea] but you also did see shirts from other teams like Leeds, Everton and Villa or Spurs. This time around, with the exception of Singapore, it was the big four plus Barcalona and Real Madrid and very few other team’s shirts being worn. The Big get bigger!!!

This is what I found in the seven countries I visited, of course everything is subjective and this article reflects what I saw in the places that I visited, who knows what I missed! I also throw in a few travel tips for those of you fortunate enough to be able to visit the area.

New Zealand:

This is the land of Rugby! The EPL is readily available on TV but each night there are 2 or 3 channels at least showing Rugby at all levels. Most sports shirts being worn are Rugby shirts and I truly don’t remember seeing a football shirt even being sold. In some British or Irish pubs you will see adverts for broadcasted games but by and large rugby rules here! The good news of course is Arsenal are no better or worse than any other team. Travel tip: Drive up the west side of the South Island, Glaciers, Mountains and lonely beaches. A truly spectacular drive with wonderfully friendly people.

Malaysia:

The main paper has 4 columnists who each weekend write on Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. Of course, as everywhere in Asia, Manchester United are the biggest club but Liverpool are a very strong second and we are roughly level with Chelsea in third. Barcelona have really improved their visibility since I last visited but the EPL is still the main game in town and in a Saturday paper you will get 3 or 4 pages of EPL coverage. We were much bigger 5 years ago and have definitely slipped but each day I saw at least one Arsenal shirt being worn, sometimes more. You see the occasional QPR shirt around as they are owned by a Malaysian and he sells the shirts in his airline shops, Air Asia. Travel Tip: Kuala Lumpur has a serious violent crime problem so go to Penang which is safer and also has the best food in Asia!

Thailand:

My favourite country in the region and one where Liverpool almost matches United, the residual support from the glory years is very strong and most football adverts on television will show one or both of the clubs. I have to credit the Liverpool supporters in Asia for their loyalty when you consider their relative lack of recent success. Chelsea is quite big here and are certainly third with us just behind them.

Bangkok airport used to have an Arsenal section where you could buy shirts and casual wear. We have been replaced by Leicester City as King Power, who run the Bangkok duty free, sponsor the shirts of that team. What did surprise me is that Everton, whose shirts are sponsored by a major Thai beer company have zero visibility. Travel Trip: Skip Bangkok and go to Chiang Mai, its cooler, cheaper and there is more to do like trekking.

Myanmar:

I did not see football shirts being worn here for any team but I did see the Arsenal v Wigan game on one of their four TV channels. There were adverts around the city showing Arsene Wenger and Arsenal promoting junior football so perhaps we have our foot in the door. Travel Tip: Bring crisp US dollars, ATMs are problematic at best and shops will not accept old US dollars or even a note that has been stapled.

Sri Lanka:

I saw a few shirts around Colombo and we had a good presence, second to United but cricket is the main sport here and the level of support for football appeared much less than in SE Asia.

Travel Tip: If you plan to travel outside Colombo allow lots of time or fly, roads are bad.

Indonesia:

I was in Bali so most shirts you see are for Australian Rugby or football as that’s where the tourists come from but EPL shirts are around and United, Arsenal and Manchester City were all spotted by your hard working correspondent! Travel Tip: Bali is spectacularly beautiful but if you go then avoid Kuta which is rightly called the armpit of Bali due to it being overrun by drunken Aussie youths on the lookout for women .

Singapore:

You will have noticed I have not mentioned Tottenham as I truly had never seen anyone wearing their shirt. Imagine my surprise when on a pub crawl with my nephew I saw a banner with Singapore Tottenham Hotspurs Supporters Club opposite a bar we were in. I couldn’t resist and I just had to go over and ask one of the guys at the stand… WHY??

Even more astonishing there was around 20 people there and Glen Hoddle was giving a talk. I asked him who was the best Arsenal player he faced and he said it was between Rix and Brady but felt on balance it was Brady. He seemed a decent enough guy and as the only Gooner there they treated me well. Kudos to Singapore Spurs fans but still… WHY? WHY Spurs???

Travel Tip:. Aa night on the town in Singapore is amazingly expensive, a small bottle of beer will cost a tenner or more!! If you are a beer drinker head for Thailand where It’s still reasonable!!

In conclusion it was a tough 11 weeks of travel and we have sadly fallen back in visibility in SE Asia. We have a loyal and large following in Malaysia and Thailand but the last 8 years have seen the casual fans move from us to United and Chelsea. If we don’t start winning soon then I fear that in another 5 years we will have fallen back even further!! I found Bali and New Zealand to be out of this world spectacular and no one can beat the friendliness of the Thgai people.

Written by neaman


Vote For Arsenal’s Greatest Forward pre 1956

July 13, 2013

Time to vote on this week’s strikers pre 1956 as we compile our own Arsenal’s Greatest Team.

If you’ve missed this weeks posts we have profiled 10 strikers from between 1923 and 1956. If you check the side-bar you can re-read them. Votes can be cast for up to three players.

This weeks profiles written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


Who should be Arsenal captain next season?

July 12, 2013

There seems to be a feeling amongst Arsenal fans that we haven’t had a truly great captain since Vieira. Henry, Gallas, Cesc. Some fine players there. But apparently not great captains. Two seasons ago we seemed to have solved that problem, but the manner of his* departure must also bring into doubt his leadership qualities. (* He who shall not be named)

TV captain

That left Thomas Vermaelen to take over the armband. He was a popular, and seemingly natural choice at the time. His steely eyed look of determination, his all action style, very visible fist pumping and gesturing to his teammates, seemed to suggest he was made of the same stuff as the stereotypically great captains that we remember. (Yes, I do have issues with typecasting a certain type of attitude as being the sign of a captain.)

But Vermaelen never recovered his form, and eventually lost his place in the starting 11 as well. Can anyone argue that he should start ahead of Koscielny and Mertesacker? Which actually begs the question, will he leave? Should Arsenal let him go?

Arteta captain

Assuming Vermaelen stays, should he retain the armband? Does a captain have to be a regular starter? If so, who is to be the new captain? The stories from last season suggest that Mikel Arteta was in fact the real leader of the group. Arteta had a fantastic season, changing his game tremendously to adapt to a new role, because that is what the team needed him to do. His statistics last season were brilliant, as was his attitude. So, should he just formally take over what he seemed to be doing informally anyway?(After all, you don’t need the armband to lead)

I would say yes, but there is a risk that Vermaelen will feel undermined. Also, if TV is precluded from being captain due to not being a starter, what about rumours of Arsenal bidding for Fellaini or Bender? What will that mean for Arteta, especially in light of his age?

Sagna captain

Who else could be captain? In my view Sagna could stake a real claim, despite his poor form last season. However, his contract having only one year to run might mean he should be overlooked. Another player who could get a shout as captain would be Per Mertesacker. He’s the organizer in defense, and seems to make his defensive partners better. He’s also already an authority figure of sorts at the club as he’s responsible for collecting fines from the players. A 2 metre tall defensive stalwart would suit many people’s idea of an Arsenal captain, even if he is German.

Mertesacker captain

Of course if it were to be down to popularity amongst the fans, then I think a certain Jack Wilshere would be installed as captain. As far as I’m concerned though, the only thing in his favour would be the (relatively assured) long term continuity in captain, which would be lacking in Arteta, Sagna, and maybe even Vermaelen’s case. For the rest, I think he’s still too young (and a little reckless). He should concentrate on getting his fitness, and then his place back. He has a long future ahead of him and there’s no need to rush to make him captain, especially when there are better candidates for the role.

Jack captain

So who would you vote for as Arsenal captain? (Bonus. Who should be vice captain?)

Written by Shard