Simply the Best. Your Favourite Goals?

November 15, 2011

“A good ball by Dixon finding Smith – onto Thomas charging through the midfield, Thomas – it’s up for grabs now. Thomas , right at the end. An unbelievable end to the season.”  My favourite goal of all time, probably every Arsenal fans favourite goal. There have been plenty  more beautiful (TH v MU 2000) but certainly none more dramatic. Those 15 odd seconds have been replayed in my mind thousands of times – times of stress, times of sorrow and times of hardship but when the muck hits the fan and I need a lift, a quick mental reference to Liverpool on the 26th May 1989, and for a few seconds all is well with the world.

Why bring that up here and now? Well, because we are in the midst of a veritable desert of football,…..and because GIE suggested I write about my favourite goals.

2nd. ” It’s all over I think. Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over – It is now.” Geoff Hurst 1966. I was in Switzerland at the time on a school holiday. I had attended the Quarter Finals and was in that wonderful stage of childhood when football is everything – before girls came along and ruined  changed everything. Our hotel was packed with German kids and I wish I could say we were magnanimous in our victory. Sadly, the worst of our jingoism came to the fore…….. Brilliant.  This was THE time to be English – The Beatles, The Stones, Carnaby Street, the Mini (both car and skirt!) WC Winners etc etc. A year later Sargeant Pepper was released which changed my life but nothing came near to the feeling of seeing that rocket shot fly past Tolkowski and seeing The Kaiser’s (Franz Beckenbauer) head drop.

3rd.  “Hutchison and now Bould. And it’s Tony Adams put though by Steve Bould. Would you believe it? That sums it all up”. TA Everton 1998. Perhaps my favourite day ever at Highbury. The weather was brilliant, we had a fantastic team, we had won the title, I hadn’t spent too long in the Gunners Pub, I was with all my Arsenal mates – friends with whom I had travelled all over Europe and shared pints, train journeys, thousands of motorway miles,  and all the highs and lows of following OUR team. And Tony was not just Our Leader, he was Mr Arsenal; to see him finish the season like that brought me to tears –  and I am not exaggerating.

This signed picture stands on my desk as I write

4th. “There’s Pires. He’s picked out Bergkamp, It’s Bergkamp with a chance and he’s taken it. Brilliant goal.”  DB10 Newcastle 2002. I could have picked any of DB goals – he scored so many great ones . The hatrick at Leicester  in ’97  was awesome, probably the best I have ever seen, but this goal was something spectacular. The vision, the strength to hold off some Orc, the composure of the turn and the finish, all the mark of a genius of a footballer. I recall when we signed Dennis – I was in shock. At the time we had gone through some of the worst football ever seen at Highbury – winning teams but simply dire football (apart from the best defence ever seen). Suddenly DB arrives and heralds a New Dawn. Mr Wenger came soon after and together they created something very special. Thank you Dennis.

I could go on and on. Thierry scored so many fabulous goals but 3 stand out – MU 2000 scored right in front of me at the Clock End, Spurs when he beat the whole team, and that marvel at the Bernabeu; Ray Kennedy at WHL  ’71, Charlie George at Wembley, Freddie at Cardiff, Wrighty’s lob and volley versus Everton in front of the North Bank, Smudger in Copenhagen,  Liam Brady at WHL, Kanu at the Bridge, Wiltord at OT, RvP v Barca ++++++.

Which are your favourites and why?

Written  by BigRaddy


Arsenal’s Best Signing Ever

June 27, 2011

Who is the best player ever to have been signed by Arsenal?

Last summer I wrote a post about ‘Arsenal’s Best Transfer News Ever’. The point of that piece was to determine which piece of transfer news was the most exciting when it was announced, regardless of how that player went on to perform for the club.

So, for example, Clive Allen was on that list even though he never played a game in anger for Arsenal and so was Davor Suker, who was never more than a bit part player.

This time I want to know which signing (as opposed to home grown player) has been the best piece of business we have ever done.

You may want to weigh up factors such as what they cost, what their impact was on the team, what legacy, if any, they left behind, their achievements versus the expectations we had when they arrived and so on.

I’m not including anyone who has come through the Arsenal ranks from apprentice up, or has been recruited at too young an age to be considered a mature signing (so there’s no room for Cesc Fabregas).

For starters, here are what I consider to be some of the main contenders:

Cliff Bastin

Cliff was spotted by Herbert Chapman playing for Exeter away at Watford. Chapman had gone along to keep tabs on a promising Watford player but was so impressed by Cliff that he snapped him up at the end of the 1928/29 season. It was an inspired piece of business and was crucial to the Chapman revolution that led Arsenal to dominate English football in the 1930s. Bastin’s scoring record for the Gunners was not outdone until Ian Wright surpassed it in 1997.

Ronnie Rooke

Arsenal’s dominance in the Chapman era was ended not by any other team, but by the Second World War. When football began again afterwards we returned as a severely weakened side and narrowly avoided relegation in 1947. But the following year we bounced back to reclaim our crown – and the vital ingredient was a tough, experienced centre forward called Ronnie Rooke. He was nearly 35 when we signed him from Second Division Fulham and he had never played in the top flight – so he was a real gamble. However, his 21 goals in 1946/47 helped stave off relegation and he followed that with 33 more the next season as we marched to the title.

Frank McClintock

Our Double-winning hard man was brought up in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, which explains a lot. He was signed in 1964 after seven successful years at Leicester. Starting off in midfield before moving to the CB role (and the captaincy) he was a rock throughout the relatively fallow years of the late 1960s and, of course, led Arsenal to the Double in 1971.

Alan Smith

Another Leicester stalwart, signed in 1987. “Smudger” was an awkward-looking, ungainly centre forward, but there was no-one better at holding up the ball and bringing others into play – skills that, along with his eye for a goal, proved to be vital in our title-winning seasons of 1989 and 1991.

David Seaman

After winning the league in ’89 most of us were happy with John Lukic between the sticks, but George Graham decided that he wanted the best and went out and got Safe Hands from QPR in 1990. It’s no exaggeration to say that Seaman was an essential ingredient in every subsequent success achieved by the club during his time with us.

Ian Wright

Although he would not win a champions medal until 1998 and the arrival of Arsene Wenger, Wrighty was a mainstay of the Arsenal team in the later George Graham era, when we stopped winning championships and started winning cups and when our flamboyant attacking midfield was replaced by pragmatic journeymen. Arguably, without Wright’s goals during that period, we might really have struggled.

Dennis Bergkamp

I’ll admit to being biased here. Dennis is my all-time favourite Arsenal player – but what a signing he was in terms of ambition and imagination. Bruce Rioch was the boss when Dennis arrived in 1995 but his signing is widely attributed to David Dein. The English league did not have much in the way of foreign superstars at that time (Eric Cantona apart) and Dennis showed the way forward for many of the great foreign players that followed. His touch, vision, passing and reading of the game was a damning indictment of the type of players being produced by English clubs in the Route One era.

Sol Campbell

Sol’s signing from the N17 knuckle-draggers was the sensation of the close season in 2001. The fabled Adams-Keown-Bould back three was near the end of its days and a significant reinforcement was needed. You don’t get more significant than Big Sol, who went on to become an immense figure in our defence, even if he did go a bit loopy at the end.

Patrick Vieira

Signed in 1996 from Milan, Paddy took the EPL by storm and is arguably still the greatest midfielder to have strut his stuff since the Premiership was formed. Arsenal captain, Arsenal legend, fearless, tireless, gifted… what more is there to say?

Thierry Henry

After Arsene Wenger’s first Double in 1998, we were all gutted when young goal machine Nicolas Anelka was persuaded by his greedy agents (his brothers, no less) to walk out on us the following year. But we need not have worried. Arsene went one better, bringing in Thierry Henry fresh from France’s 1990 World Cup triumph. He was a winger with va-va-voom, but Arsene converted him into the deadliest striker the Premier League has ever known.

That’s it.

My choice would be Dennis, because he completely transformed Arsenal and helped transform English football. He also stayed with us until the end of his career and is clearly still a devoted Gooner.

What do you think?

RockyLives


Arsène Wenger manages the Dream Team

June 24, 2011

Written by Gooner in Exile

Arsenal.com are currently running an all time dream team vote. The problem with this it is often only the young who vote and recent memory can skew the result.

We have a wide church here with regard to ages so how about we all pick our all time eleven, manager, coach, physio and you can even throw in a few squad players.

One stipulation you must have seen them play or manage whilst you’ve been alive. On second thoughts this could put the younger members of the forum at a disadvantage so perhaps we can allow two wild cards for positions where you believe a player from before your time may have added some.

I’ll start us off:

Seaman

Lauren   Adams  O’Leary  Winterburn

Pires    Vieira  Talbot    Limpar

Bergkamp
Wright

Subs
Henry
Rocastle
Ljungberg
Merson
Campbell
Caesar

Coach : Don Howe
Physio : Gary Lewin

Manager : Arsène Wenger

That was tough and I’ve only been watching them for 29 years, good luck to our older supporters.

So just to say I know that’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but hey it’s my fantasy you all get to have yours too.

Admittedly some have been chosen for how they did things on the pitch, they may not all be the best in their positions but in the case of a few:

Wright……his pure enthusiasm for the game, affinity with the fans and love of scoring goals and also because of that goal against Big Nev, the whole of Highbury singing Ian Wright Wright Wright for a good ten minutes after he scored it.

Limpar…..I was there when he beat Hooper from the halfway line and it was probably the best goal I ever witnessed at Highbury.

Caesar…..you have to have an anti hero to have a hero, he was always good for a laugh (unfortunately for him we weren’t laughing with him).

So there is the challenge pick away. Don’t ask me to justify my selections I made them in five minutes and will probably change them every ten.


Little and Large …….The Perfect Striker Partnership

November 13, 2010

Written by Neamman

Wright, Henry, Van Nistelrooy, Shearer, Drogba, Cole, Owen, Ronaldo, Rooney  ..   all players who you would expect to score more than 20 goals a season when in their prime. We haven’t had a player like that since Henry left.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Chamakh and Van Persie, but a look at their history tells us we will never see more than 15 goals a season from them at best. That’s not a criticism as they both bring so much more to the team but they are superb support strikers and not the main man. They are a Wiltord to Henry, a Skolshar to a Van Nistelrooy, a Sheringham to a Cole. We have not yet found a striker who truly puts fear into our opponents defense.



All is not lost however, I actually think we have them on our books in the shape of NicBendtner and Theo Walcott. Big Nic, in his breakout season two years ago, scored what..14 goals.. but he has struggled for fitness since. In an injury plague season last year he scored 9 goals and started off this year with two goals in his first two appearances.

Theo, after a restful summer, also has been hot knocking in 7 goals plus he has hit the post a couple of times in his last few games.

They are both young and are perhaps a year behind where they should be because of their injury plagued last 18 months. If our fitness gurus can keep them on the field I am quite confident we can see a minimum of 20 goals each from our Little and Large. It may mean a switch back to 4-4-2 so that they can play up front together, one small and lightening fast, one big and strong. I truly believe that they would terrorize most defences and when backed with Chamakh or RVP we will see Arsenal dominate the scoring charts yet again.

Before I close I cannot help but ask… why are players so prone to injuries? If it’s the boots not protecting metatarsals, surely some company can design a better boot??? To be fair it is not just us, more and more clubs are suffering from injuries it seems.

Football clubs are investing a lot of money in their stars and we need to see them on the pitch much more than we do.

Just imagine if Nic and Theo had played all of last season and the beginning of this… I cannot believe we wouldn’t have stuck a few more goals past the Toon and West Ham!!! So lets hope in the FA Cup and the League Cup we start to see our Little and Large starting together and building an understanding that should lead them to dominate the scoring charts for the next 6 or 7 years.