Arsenal’s Century Club – Theo Walcott

March 25, 2019

Today we start to look at the players who are members of – “The Arsenal Century Club”

Nineteen players have achieved the feat and they played for the club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark.

We start today with the player who took the most games and we will finish the series of posts with the player who took the least.

Theo James Walcott was born 16 March 1989 in Stanmore, London, but grew up in Compton, Berkshire. He attended Compton Church of England Primary School and The Downs School. Nike agreed to a sponsorship deal with Walcott when he was fourteen years old. He is a product of the Southampton Academy and started his career with Southampton before Arsene Wenger signed him for Arsenal in 2006 for £5 million.

He initially joined as a scholar, having agreed to sign a professional contract on his 17th birthday on 16 March 2006.

On 30 May 2006, Walcott became England’s youngest ever senior football player aged 17 years and 75 days. In December, he received the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award. On 6 September 2008, he made his first competitive start in a World Cup qualifier against Andorra. He has represented England at the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2012 and has 47 caps, scoring eight goals. In September 2008 against Croatia he became the youngest player ever to score a hat-trick for the full England side, aged just 19.

His first goal for Arsenal came in the 2007 League Cup Final against Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on 25 February 2007. His 12th-minute strike was overshadowed by events later on in the match: John Terry was knocked unconscious, Didier Drogba scored twice to give Chelsea a 2–1 victory and three players were sent off following a mass brawl.

Some words from the man himself-

“I was only 17 and hadn’t even played in the Premiership when I went to Germany. It wasn’t my decision to pick me. But it was good experience to train with world-class players, see the way they handled themselves.

“I never read the papers, so I never know what people are saying about me. That helps. The environment I’m in with the other players around me, I don’t really see what is in the papers. Of course I wanted to play for Arsenal. But I was only 17 and I didn’t want to play too much and get injuries. The boss has done brilliantly with me and now I’m ready to push on.”

Some more words-

Football is about opinions, but love me or hate me I don’t really care,” he said.

“I have been so pleased with everything I have achieved and I’ve enjoyed everything about it. Even with the injuries, it is part of the game. I genuinely wouldn’t change anything, I don’t have any regrets.

“I’ve seen players come through who everyone says, ‘They’re the next best thing’ and they put so much pressure on them, but then they go down the leagues and down the leagues and you just don’t hear about them anymore. But if you’re strong up here [mentally] and you have good people around you, then you can get through it.”

This may come as a surprise, but Walcott is a published author.

He has written no less than four children’s books for his “T.J and the…” series.

He was just 21 when they were published in 2010. The lead character, TJ, appears to be based on the author. Goodreads rated every one of the books at least 4.5/5.

In his 370th game for Arsenal on February 20th 2017 he scored his 100th goal in a 2-0 FA Cup victory over Sutton United.

Theo’s 100th goal punch

Throughout his last season at Arsenal, he was mainly used in the Europa League and in the EFL Cup, and he only made 6 substitute appearances in the Premier League. By October, he was increasingly on the fringes and was criticised following a poor performance when made captain in a 2–1 League Cup victory at home to Championship side Norwich City.

On 17 January 2018, Walcott signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Everton, ending his time at Arsenal.

GunnerN5

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Granit for Captain?

March 24, 2019

Granit Xhaka is a marmite player. There are those who think he only ever passes the ball sideways or backwards or, at least, rarely forwards. Some believe Xhaka is an accident waiting to happen, either by dwelling on the ball in our own final third, making ill-advised passes or by lunging into rash challenges. Others see him as the fulcrum of the team, anchoring the midfield, always available, never shirking the hard yards necessary to be defensive central midfielder.

Admittedly, he has picked up 23 yellow cards and 2 reds in his 95 Arsenal appearances so far. In January 2017 there were articles about his appalling red card record with his 9th sending off in 3 years as he was dismissed against Burnley. He’d been unlucky to be sent off a few months earlier when deliberately tripping a Swansea player who’d only just crossed the halfway line. Since then he’s cleaned up his act with no further early baths.

His passing efficacy is up for debate, but not the sheer metronomic volume of those passes. Granit has made just over 500 more passes than the next Arsenal player in the list, 1921 to Lucas Torreira’s 1417. When Xhaka is playing well, the team plays well. He dictates that central area in front of the back four without being the most mobile of defensive anchors in a more Makelele style.

When Granit steps into the bear pit, he wears his heart on his sleeve, geeing up those around him and revving the crowd up on occasion, too. We’ve lacked a vocal presence at the heart of the team for years. A captain like Laurent Koscielny leads by example but it’s doubtful many of his fellow professionals would quake in their boots if Kos decided to take them to task. Granit, on the other hand, does seem to possess a fiery, bullish temperament to be feared and respected

When Auba missed that late pen against the spuds which would have consigned them to a deserved defeat, it was Granit who was immediately there at his side giving him support. No William Gallas ‘sitting on the halfway line crying’ antics for the big Swiss but instead there seems to be a genuine desire to cajole and encourage those around him.

(The tweet above prompted this post, so don’t blame me, blame Cockneys)

Granit always features prominently when playing for his home country, though his Albanian roots perhaps preclude him from being the on-field captain when the present captain, Stephan Lichtsteiner, hangs up his boots.  Off the pitch Granit conducts himself with an air of class and appears to be a fine ambassador for the Club.

Unai Emery certainly seems to hold him in high regard and it is with great anticipation that the Arsenal fans view him lining up a long ranger on that sweet left peg. Ask David De Gea or Mignolet (?)  🙂

What do you think? Is Granit a future captain or would you choose an alternative from the current playing staff?

chas

p.s. I’m choosing to ignore tabloid scaremongering that Granit wants away to progress his career. The man’s just signed a new contract until June 2023, ffs.


Where will we finish in the Prem? – Poll

March 20, 2019

Ten weeks ago on 3rd January, we’d beaten Fulham at home 4-1 a couple of days previously and City had just beaten Liverpool (still the scousers only defeat of the season).

We sat 7 points behind the spuds and 3 behind the chavs in the Premier League. According to the stats chaps we had a 1 in 3 chance of finishing in the top 4. The spuds sat on 90% chance and chavs 70%. Our simulated end of season points total was 71 points, 8 less than the spuds and 4 behind Chelsea.

Scott Willis @oh_that_crab on twitter

Since then we’ve caught up 6 points on both of our London rivals, including picking up maximum points at home to Chelsea and Man U and gaining a creditable (and a touch unlucky to be only a single) point away at Wembley.

The race for the top 4 has opened up with the red mancs having marginally better form than us over those same games. Thankfully the steam appears to be evaporating slightly from the OGS express with back to back defeats.

Since early January our chances of achieving that top four position have, apparently, more than doubled . Meanwhile the spuds’ chances have dropped from 90 to just under 70% and chavs from over 70% to  just less than 1 in 3.

Scott Willis @oh_that_crab on twitter

I realise that this kind of analysis annoys some folks in a similar way to GIE’s swing-o-meter used to perplex me. 🙂

I’ve seen comments on twitter under the second projection saying, ‘this is basically just the League table, isn’t it?’. Of course it’s fine to think like that about attempts to try to statistically analyse a game involving 22 chaps, a pig’s bladder and a man and his buddies dressed in black (or green), all being of indeterminate parentage.

AFP – Getty Images

Anyway, moving on to the fun part. Optimism is high in the Arsenal camp at the start of the interlull having disposed of Rennes and the resurgent mancs in the past week but with 5 away games left of our remaining eight, there are sure to be some ups and downs in the weeks to come.  Wolves away (the game postponed because of their FA Cup game last weekend) has been been rescheduled for Wednesday April 24th and we’re sure of a hot reception at Molineux under the floodlights.

Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal Football Club

Here’s a chance for you to show what a balanced and reasonable Arsenal supporter you are by guessing where we’ll finish come May 12th. We already know that FGG thinks we’ll be lucky to finish 6th and BR only appreciates our slim chances of finishing 4th if the sun’s out in Denmark. 🙂

What other factors need to be taken into account for the run-in?  Your thoughts in the comments below, please.

chas


EPL Top 6 positions up for grabs – who’ll finish where?

March 17, 2019

The placement of the top six clubs in the Premier League looks like it will go right down to the last game of the season.

Top six standings as of March 11th

Lets take a look at where the teams stand with only eight games left to play (Chelsea still have nine but play today).

The top two positions look to be contested between Manchester City and Liverpool – will Liverpool finally win their nineteenth league title and their first Premier League Championship or will holders Manchester City win their sixth league title (4th since the oil money came in) ?

In the reverse fixtures this season Manchester City beat Manchester United and Tottenham but lost to Crystal Palace and Leicester City gaining 18 out of 24 points. Liverpool won 7 out of the 8 games and drew with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge gaining 21 out of 24 points.

Liverpool has the advantage of playing Tottenham and Chelsea in front of their home supporters at Anfield while Manchester City has the distinct disadvantage of playing Manchester United at Old Trafford.

My best guess is that Liverpool will hold their nerve and win their first Premier League Championship, though with both teams in the Champions League q/fs, European distractions may play a part.

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The third through sixth positions are between Spurs, Arsenal, Man U and Chelsea and the four teams are separated by only four points with their final placement in complete doubt.

Let’s look at the teams individually.

Tottenham:

In their reverse fixtures this season they won 6 of the 8 games but lost at home to both Liverpool and Manchester City gaining 18 out of 24 points.

In their last 4 games Tottenham have picked up only 1 point, drawing with Arsenal and losing to Burnley, Chelsea and Southampton. In their last 8 games they will have to face both Liverpool and Manchester City in away fixtures.

(Update : the Champions League may not distract them for too much longer unfortunately)

Arsenal:

Arsenal won 5 of their reverse fixtures while drawing with Wolves, Crystal Palace and Brighton gaining 18 out of the 24 points.

They have finished all of their games against the top 6 teams which should give them a big advantage in the race for the top 4 positions.

Emery and Podgytino in their Spanish days

Manchester United:

Manchester United won 4 of their reverse games but drew with Wolves and Chelsea while losing to Manchester City and West Ham gaining only 14 of the 24 points.

They have been revitalised by new management and in their last 13 league games they have won 10 drawn 2 and lost just 1 to Arsenal at the Emirates. Their final place in the PL will most likely be determined by the results in their homes games against Manchester City and Chelsea.

(Update : they’ll be pleased they can concentrate on the League – now that the FA Cup is out of the way! But still have Barca to negotiate in the CL.)

Chelsea:

In their reverse fixtures Chelsea won 4 and but drew with Everton, West Ham, Liverpool and Manchester United while losing to Leicester and only picking up a low 12 out of 27 points.

In their final 9 league games they have 5 very tough away games at Everton, Cardiff City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Leicester.

Getty Images

As I look at the potential final 3rd through 6th positions it’s conceivable that all four teams can finish with the same amount of points. I know that everything can change with one result but based on the above thoughts and statistics I will go out on a limb and say that they will finish in these positions.

3rd Arsenal, 4th Manchester United, 5th Tottenham and 6th Chelsea.

What are your thoughts?

GunnerN5


Is there going to be any decent football to watch for the next 16 days?

March 16, 2019

The short answer is ‘no’ as our next competitive game is not until April Fools day. April the first is a Monday so even when proper football returns, we’ll have to wait for the whole weekend to pass before seeing the lads play again.

When I say ‘competitive’ match, I notice that a new fixture has appeared on AFC.com, a friendly on Tuesday March 26th, 3pm kick off. This is part of a mid-season break in Dubai for those not involved in the internationals and the opposition is Al-Nasr Dubai SC. This is not purely an exercise in trying to boost our profile in the Middle East, latching on to a portion of oil money. Oh no.

Al Nasr capture former PSG midfielder Cabaye

How about this weekend? Is there anything interesting in the Prem games. Saturday is a complete wash out with three non-entity fixtures. Let’s hope the rugby is good and England still have something to play for at 5 o’clock.

Sunday sees Liverpool trying to go back to the top of the table at everyone’s favourite ground, Craven Cottage, followed by the chavs at Goodison. Theo always used to score against them, didn’t he?

There appear to be some FA cup games this weekend, too, but hold little appeal for anyone apart from fans of the participating teams. Millwalll fans have been told they’ll get a severe telling off if there’s any homophobic chanting at the Brighton fans. Good luck with that. City and United to go through to add to their fixture congestion? Who cares?

As far as the international fixtures are concerned, attention turns to European Championship qualifying. Yawn.

England play the Czech Republic next Friday at 7.45 and Montenegro away on the Monday evening.

When the Premier League returns, City go to the Cottage (lucky Fulham!), the red mancs are at home to Watford and on the Sunday, the chavs are at Cardiff and spuds go to Anfield. 🙂

Let’s hope all our boys involved in matches for their respective countries return unscathed, so when April does come around we can continue afresh.

The following is a translation from the French website Ouest France and is just an excuse to show another photo of the lovely Ben Arfa. My reaction to seeing photos of him has gone from disgust to barely concealed delight. No idea why.

Hatem Ben Arfa kicked off the second leg last Thursday: “Now we’re favorites and we’ll go to London to win. “Having fun with the behavior of his former coach at PSG, which had deprived him of competition for a year and a half, after doing everything to recruit him:” I saw the same Unai Emery, who was very excited on the bench. I looked at him from time to time, and it made me laugh a little, because he did not change. “

Ben Arfa and Le Wagner on Thursday afternoon

chas


Did Arsene and Arsenal waste the Club’s footballing talent of 1998-2006, coaching-wise?

March 12, 2019

My brothers will tell you I am a glutton for punishment. All my life I have been sports mad (I taught it in schools for 23 years!). I read anything and everything on almost every sport imaginable – good, bad and indifferent material.

Although football, rugby and cricket are the very top of my interest, I will find myself studying the intricacies of free climbing, or bias in curling, the mechanics of the sand wedge or transference of force in a boxing jab. (I say “almost every” – I have little regard for F1 and American Football).

Jimmy Chin – National Geographic

In addition to reading much, I listen to sport, live commentary, and the opinions of ex sportsmen, “pundits”, and those somehow (unbelievably)  provided with money to talk bowlocks about sport with little or no significant experience to justify their existence in the role.

And so (eventually) to the point of my post…….

Listening to Georgie Bingham and the fake Irishman Cascarino recently, I heard, following copious praise for how well the wonderful Man Utd had used so many of its ” golden generation” in Club coaching and managing roles, with Solskjaer being the crowning glory, that ARSENAL and WENGER had not only wasted theirs from the 1998-2006 period, but, in the case of Arsene, had a definite policy to NOT involve them in Club.

Hackles up, I started to analyse this comment.

Firstly there is Steve Bould. (Although given his “staticness” on the bench during the Wenger era, perhaps he’s more evidence for Ms Bingham’s case than anyone else!) I am fairly certain that Keown, Dixon, and Winterburn, play some part in the daily running of the Club, if not as much in the coaching of defenders role that I would like to see!

Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Freddie and the BFG are now in charge of the Academy and U23s, and at that point I asked myself a question. How many of those missing do I think COULD have been usefully involved. My answer was reduced to two! I have always believed Patrick V. should have been incorporated into our set-up. ( I would still like him to be an Arsenal manager someday). And I would now have to add Marc Overmars for what seems to have been a silent but excellent role behind the scenes at Ajax.

Of the rest, TA has always been clueless to me in terms of coaching, and I believe the same might (perhaps unfairly) be said of Thierry. Sol might prove me wrong, but I doubt it. DB10 never really wanted a coaching role, and has now fallen out even with his Dutch love. Ray Parlour, Gilberto, Lauren, Manu P, Merson, Smith, Ian Wright…….COULD any of them have made it in coaching/managing at our Club? Doubtful IMO.

So have we wasted talent? Have I forgotten anyone important? What do you think?

LBG


Arsenal FC – Our home record against Man U

March 9, 2019

Manchester United Football Club, nicknamed “the Red Devils” was founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to its current stadium, Old Trafford, in 1910.

Arsenal and Manchester Untied both have an outstanding history and enjoy a great rivalry, however this boiled over in 1990 when a brawl between the two teams resulted in both clubs having points deductions in the Football League First Division. There was also a high level of enmity between Arsène Wenger (1996–2018) and Sir Alex Ferguson (1986–2013), and the two of the club’s former captains Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane.

This all came to a head during a league fixture in September 2003 that later become known as the “Battle of Old Trafford”. Arsenal players were aggrieved by Ruud van Nistelrooy’s antics – they felt he cheated trying get Patrick Vieira sent off – it resulted in an unseemly player melee. The next season, Manchester United ended Arsenal’s unbeaten run when Wayne Rooney took a dive to win a controversial penalty – after the game there was a skirmish in the tunnel which ended with Sir Alex enjoying some pizza. A total of seven red cards were shown in matches from February 1997 to February 2005.

Out of interest (mine) here are the players who have made appearances for both clubs.

Paddy Sloan

Manchester United: 1938-1939 (0 apps; 0 goals); Arsenal: 1946-48 (33 apps, 1 goal)

David Herd

Arsenal: 1954-1961 (166 apps, 99 goals); Manchester United: 1961-1968 (265 apps, 145 goals)

Ian Ure

Arsenal: 1963-1969 (202 apps, 2 goals); Manchester United: 1969-1971 (65 apps, 1 goal)

George Graham

Arsenal: 1966-1972 (308 apps, 77 goals); Manchester United: 1972-1974 (46 apps, 2 goals)

Jimmy Rimmer

Manchester United: 1965-1974 (46 apps, 0 goals)

Arsenal: 1974-1977 (apps, 146, 0 goals)

Brian Kidd

Manchester United 1967-1974 (264 apps, 70 goals)

Arsenal 1974-1976 (90 apps, 34 goals)

Frank Stapleton

Arsenal: 1971-1981 (300 apps, 108 goals)

Manchester United: 1981-1987 (288 apps, 78 goals)

Viv Anderson

Arsenal: 1984-1987 (150 apps, 15 goals)

Manchester United: 1987-1991 (64 apps, 4 goals)

Jim Leighton

Manchester United 1988-1991 (94 caps)

Arsenal 1991 (0 apps)

David Platt

Manchester United 1982-1985 (0 apps)

Arsenal 1995-1998 (108 apps, 15 goals)

Andy Cole

Arsenal: 1989-1992 (2 apps, 0 goals)

Manchester United: 1995-2001 (195 apps, 93 goals)

Mikael Silvestre

Manchester United 1999-2008 (361 apps, 10 goals)

Arsenal 2008-2010 (46 apps, 6 goals)

Robin van Persie

Arsenal: 2004-2012 (279 apps, 132 goals); Manchester United: 2012-2015 (105 apps, 58 goals)

Danny Welbeck

Manchester United: 2008-2014 (142 apps, 29 goals)

Arsenal: 2014-present (91 apps, 22 goals)

Alex Sanchez

Arsenal:  2014-2018 (122 apps, 60 goals)

Manchester United: 2018 – present (29 apps, 3 goals)

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Manchester United: 2016-2018 (39 apps, 5 goals); Arsenal: 2018 – present (29 apps, 8 goals)

It hurts to write this but the fact is Manchester United are England’s most successful football team they have an extraordinary record of achievements – but I cannot bear to list them and I’m sure that you don’t want me to – so instead I will concentrate on our home games against them.

Our overall home record is very impressive and we dominated them at home prior to the introduction of the Premier League with a record of – W44, D11, L18, GF151, and GA84.

Even though it is less dominant, our winning home record has continued in the Premier League.

Patrick Vieira celebrates scoring Arsenal’s second goal in a 3-2 win 9th November 1997

Arsenal 2 Man Utd 1 in Sept 1963 at Highbury. David Herd fires at Ian Ure

Historically this Sunday’s game is our 100th home league game against Manchester United and a little known fact is that United has lost more away games against Arsenal (54) than they have to any other Football League club – long may it last!

I sense another victory.

GunnerN5