The ‘should be’ Arsenal player that got away…..

February 23, 2015

Whenever I watch a football match I always look at the opposition players to see if there is one that could do a job for Arsenal. Obviously, players such as Suarez, Silva and even Harry Kane could well supply a steady stream of goals but what I really look for is someone who could have boosted our trophy count over a period of years.

Over time our (Arsenal’s) need has been most obvious in three positions, goalkeeper, centre-back and holding mid-fielder and it is in those positions that I have looked for my ideal players.

Since David Seaman left at the end of the 2002/3 season we have struggled with a succession of ‘keepers, some good, some not so good.

Mad Jens, a man who could pick a fight with his own shadow, always had us on the edge of euphoria, or despair, depending on the state of the tide, Almunia, Fabianski, Mannone, Szczesny and now Ospina have all been given a go with varying success, but the one ‘keeper, had we been able to sign him at the time of Seaman’s departure, who could have carried us forward in the long term is Petr Cech.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Chelsea stopper has been the best ‘keeper in the Premiership for years and what a difference he would have made.

At centre-back, again, we’ve struggled. Since Adams, Bould and Keown went it is only now that we have some pretty good cbs. Mertesacker and Koscielny have done well, while the recent signing of Gabriel looks promising but how about if we could have got our hands on John Terry when in 2002 he was sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest. Now Terry is not a person that I can admire but as a footballer he has been the rock that Chelsea’s success has been built on. Would our defence have been more solid for his presence? I think so.

Finally I come to the most important position for me. Holding mid-fielder, looking back we had Vieira and Petit who could play the role pretty well, and then along came Gilberto, The Invisible Wall. Since then we have been crying out for somebody to take up the baton, Arteta does a job there, but it’s not his ideal position. Flamini has done alright but only as a fill-in and Coquelin is showing promise but is lacking the physique.

The one player who could have filled the role, with his height, physique, skill, controlled aggression and sheer presence is Ya Ya Toure. There have been a number of opportunities to sign him, when he left Beveren in 2003, when he left Donetsk in 2005, when he left Olympiacos in 2006, when he left Monaco in 2007 and finally when Barca let him go in 2010. Missed chances all of them.

Petr Cech and John Terry have been together for a long time and have developed the kind of understanding so vital in a defensive unit, but their individual success may be a partial result of that interdependence, so for that reason I will pick Ya Ya Toure as the “One That Got Away”

OK AAers, over to you. Which of the three would you choose, or who else would you pick?

Written by Norfolk Gooner

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Goalkeepers – Day 3

June 6, 2013

9. Pat Jennings 1977 – 1985

Pat was our keeper for 8 years and played 327 games.

Pat was born in in Newry, County Down, after playing for Shamrock Rovers under-18 side at the age of 11, he concentrated on Gaelic football until the age of sixteen, when he made his soccer comeback with his hometown side Newry Town. After impressing with Newry he moved to English Third Division side Watford.

He was signed by Tottenham Hotspur for £27,000 in 1964. Pat spent thirteen years with Tottenham where he played in 472 league games, and 591 in all competitions. He won the FA Cup in 1967, the League Cup in 1971 and 1973, and the UEFA Cup in 1972.

He played an unsuspecting role in Arsenal’s League and Cup double in 1971 as he was in goal for Tottenham when Ray Kennedy’s header flew past him as Arsenal famously wrapped up the title at White Hart Lane.

jenningsIn August 1977, he was transferred to Arsenal, the fact that Arsenal enjoyed some of his finest years was largely thanks to a miscalculation by Spurs manager Keith Burkinshaw who incorrectly suspected that Pat was approaching the end of his career when he let him leave for Highbury. He found himself out of favour at Arsenal in 1982 as Scottish keeper George Wood assumed the No 1 spot, but he bounced back and regained his starting place until his retirement from club football in 1985. His long career ended in style with an appearance, at the age of 40, at the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico. It was a fitting finale for one of our greatest goalkeepers. In total, Jennings participated in the qualifying stages of six World Cups between 1966 and 1986.

After his retirement, he returned to Tottenham Hotspur, playing in their reserve side to maintain his match sharpness for Northern Ireland’s 1986 World Cup campaign. He was also briefly on Everton’s books, having been signed as goalkeeping cover for the 1986 FA Cup Final against Liverpool, Neville Southall having been injured playing for Wales.

In 1973 the Football Writers association named him as its footballer of the year Three years later he won PFA’s version of the award – he was the first goalkeeper to receive this accolade, he also received an MBE and an OBE.

In 2003 Pat was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of the skills he demonstrated in English football

10. John Lukic 1983 -1990

John played for 7 years and appeared in 298 games.

John was born in Chesterfield, he signed for Leeds United as a schoolboy. He made his debut for them in 1979 and went on to play 165 games. After making a transfer request, he moved to Arsenal in July 1983 for £75,000, as a long-term replacement for Pat Jennings.

gun__1322669536_lukic_johnBy the middle of the 1984-85 season he was the club’s No. 1, and won the League Cup in 1987 and the Division One title in 1989. He was ever present in Arsenal’s first team throughout seasons 1987-88, 1988-89 and 1989-90. He played in the final game of the 1989 season where Arsenal won the title in the last minute of the game against Liverpool, with John starting the move which led to Michael Thomas’ famous goal.

In the summer of 1990 Arsenal manager George Graham signed David Seaman from Queens Park Rangers – Seaman had ironically been his understudy at Leeds. This outraged many Arsenal fans at the time, especially as John was a fan favourite. On his departure, Graham commented “I still think John Lukic is one of the best keepers in the country; I just think David Seaman is the best”

Having played 277 times for the Gunners, he rejoined Leeds for £1million, playing a further 265 times and winning a second League title in 1991-92 and a runners up medal in the League Cup in 1995-96

His career took another twist when he rejoined Arsenal in 1996 as understudy to Seaman and four years later was on the bench for Arsenal’s UEFA Cup final defeat to Galatasaray. John became the oldest player to feature in a Champions League match when, in October 2000, he played against Lazio at the age of 39 years and 311 days.

In 2000, after a series of injuries to the club’s other ‘keepers, he made a brief return to the first team, playing four times. The last of these four games, against Derby County, was a month shy of his 40th birthday – he is also one of several players to have played in the top flight of English football in four separate decades.

11. David Seaman 1990 – 2003

David played for 13 years and appeared in 564 games.

David was born in Rotherham, South Yorkshire; he began his career at Leeds United, the club he supported as a boy. However (much to his disappointment), he was not wanted by then-manager Eddie Gray, who had been his favourite player. David went to Division 4 club Peterborough United for a £4,000 fee in August 1982, where he began to make a name for himself.

Just over two years later, in October 1984, Second Division club Birmingham City paid £100,000 for his services. They ended up winning promotion at the end of that season, but were relegated again at the end of the following season. Seaman was not to follow them back to Division Two, however as in August 1986, David moved to Queens Park Rangers for £225,000. He earned his first England cap, which came under Bobby Robson in a friendly against Saudi Arabia in November 1988. Whilst at Q.P.R.,he was coached by Arsenal1971 double-winner Bob Wilson, who was to work with him for more than a decade.

Arsenal manager George Graham paid Leeds United £1.3 million for him which, at the time was a British record for a goalkeeper with John Lukic leaving to rejoin Leeds. Seaman became the cornerstone of an Arsenal back five which kept 23 clean sheets and conceded just 18 goals en route to the 1990/91 League title. His qualities were manifold – he had sharp reflexes, excellent positional sense, great judgement from crosses and bags of courage.

seaman1504_176880aOne of his most memorable moments came in April 2003 when Arsenal was defending a 1-0 lead in the FA Cup Semi-Final against Sheffield United at Old Trafford. In the closing minutes he was stranded when Paul Peschisolido headed towards goal but somehow he threw himself across goal and reached back to claw the ball away from under the crossbar. What made the save even more remarkable was that it was made in his 1,000th professional game. A month later, as Arsenal’s captain, he lifted the FA Cup at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium following a 1-0 win against Southampton. After 564 appearances and eight major trophies, it was his final act as an Arsenal player and a fitting climax to his Arsenal career.

He retired from the game on 13 January 2004, following a recurring shoulder injury.

He was appointed an MBE in 1997 for services to the sport.

12. Jens Lehmann 2003-2011.

Jens played for 11 years and appeared in 200 games.

Jens was born in Essen, Germany.

The German international signed for Arsenal from Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund in July 2003. During his first spell with Arsenal he played in every match of the Club’s unbeaten league campaign in 2003/04, when he was awarded the Premier League Golden Glove Award for his integral part in the ‘Invincibles’ season. He also won the Premier League title in 2003/04, the Community Shield in 2004 and an FA Cup winner’s medal in 2005, when he famously saved from Paul Scholes in the victorious penalty shoot-out

However, his style of play, often coming out of his goal to intercept passes occasionally led to mistakes, as it did in the title-winning match against Spurs when he pushed Tottenham striker Robbie Keane as they both waited for a Tottenham corner, he also made a mistake that led to the equalising goal in Arsenal’s Champions League defeat at home to Chelsea the same season.

Before joining Arsenal he was a Bundesliga title winner with Borussia Dortmund in 2002, and UEFA Cup winner with Schalke in 1997. He also had a brief spell with AC Milan in 1998.

He was a regular fixture for the Germany national team making 61 appearances before retiring from international football in 2008, Jens was a member of the Germany World Cup squads in 1998, 2002 and 2006, in addition to their squads for the European Championship Finals in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

soc_g_jens_576He was voted UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year for the 1996–97 and 2005–06 seasons, and he has been selected for three World Cup squads and also holds the UEFA Champions League record for the most consecutive clean sheets – not having conceded a goal in 10 matches while playing for Arsenal.

After leaving Arsenal he joined German club Stuttgart, where he spent two years before announcing his retirement from football at the end of last season. He rejoined Arsenal on a short-term basis in March 2011 during the time when, Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone were out through injury. He only made one appearance during his three-month spell back, helping Arsenal to victory at Blackpool.

Jens set a national team record of not conceding a goal for 681 minutes in a friendly against Switzerland on 26 March 2008


The Title: Why We’re In With A Shout

April 13, 2011

Silent Stan has been making the headlines.

But what’s excited me about The Arsenal this week has been the noise.

The noise of Arsenal players getting their heads in the game.

First: the noise of Robin van Persie bawling out Abou Diaby at half time versus Blackpool for getting himself a stupid yellow card.

Second: the noise of Jens Lehmann shouting at the players like a deranged sergeant major (or maybe that should be a deranged oberleutnant).

It is my bold contention that no quiet team has ever won a football league title. If there was such a thing as a Trappist Monks Eleven they would be dead certs for relegation. Their only chance of any points would come in the annual grudge match against the Mute Society.

But despite this self-evident fact, you can’t deny that Arsenal have been a quiet team in recent years.

Lots of skill, to be sure, but not much sound and fury. Cesc may well be a leader, but he is not an obviously vocal leader – you seldom see him yelling at his team mates and pumping his fists.

Sometimes professional footballers need support. Sometimes they need reassurance – an arm round the shoulder and a word in their shell-like that it’s OK, we all make mistakes.

BUT SOMETIMES THEY NEED AN ALMIGHTY KICK UP THE ARRIS.

I have it on good authority that Arsene Wenger instinctively prefers the shoulder to the arris, despite what the troglodytes of Old Toilet might chant on occasion. And, by bringing through a team largely made up of young players, he has produced a group in his own image.

They care, I’m sure, but they don’t show their passion in a way that was once the norm at Arsenal.

In the days of Adams, Keown and Vieira you could guarantee that any player doing something stupid would be given a severe telling off by his senior colleagues.

This would have two effects: one, it would make everyone acutely aware of their responsibilities to the team as whole; and two, it would raise the temperature among the players, firing them up to lift their game and take out their frustrations on the opposition.

So to hear that Robin tore into Abou for his silly yellow (particularly given the same player’s red card for retaliation against Newcastle earlier in the season) is greatly heartening.

It shows that Robin really cares.

It’s also the only occasion I can remember in recent times of a story getting out about one of our players chastising another for letting the side down.

Coupled with Mad Jens giving a masterclass in shouting, organising, shoving, jostling and cajoling, it gave a distinctly different flavour to our performance at Blackpool.

I noticed that even Eboue – a man who laughs more than Stuart Hall on helium – had caught the seriousness bug. When he belted our second goal into the ‘Pool net he didn’t react with his usual grinning imitation of Donny Osmond at the dentist’s. Instead he remained grim-faced and determined.

I really hope it betokens a change of attitude among our squad. Possibly, in the wake of the public criticism Arsene dished out to the team after the limp-wristed draw against Blackburn Rovers a week earlier, they have out their heads together and decided to come out fighting.

And if that means more shouting at each other, more holding of team mates to account, then I’m all for it.

Let’s bollock our way to being champions of England.

RockyLives

 

I know Rocky won’t mind me tagging this amazing charity event onto the end of his post. Our CarlitoII is taking part in this, so please support him if you can, read on ………………………

On 11 June 2011, Freedom in the Air (FITA) is holding its first skydive Freedom Freefall day. Supporters from across the country will join us at Peterborough Sibson airfield drop zone to take part in this amazing challenge and raise money for FITA. Carl Roberton is one of the 25 freefallers.

The charity is run and inspired by Gautam Lewis <http://vimeo.com/freedomintheair> .
Gautam is a pretty inspiring chap as you’ll see from reading the press cuttings and watching the video on this page:
http://www.freedomintheair.org/press/

You can watch Carl’s video here:
http://vimeo.com/21872732
For more info on the event and aims of the event:
http://www.freedomintheair.org/freedom-freefall-skydive/

The paypal sponsorship link is:
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=P5932ATMFD2CC




Arsenal Rock and Roll onwards…..Phew!

April 11, 2011

Written by Harry

As the sun shone all over Bloomfield, Arsene’s battle weary troops took to the field with Lehmann starting his 200th game for the gunners…….No mean feat, apart from the fact his 199th was 3 years ago!! Manuel was injured in the warm up…….I think I heard that Eboue had tied his bootlaces together…Anyway Big Jens was in the spotlight…..

As expected Blackpool started like a rollercoaster, pace and purpose with a few ups and downs, survival is paramount to the seasiders and they tried to get at a vulnerable Arsenal defence, supposedly which is there for the taking according to some…….But Arsenal held firm with Squillaci and Kosceinly doing a good impression of a Centre back partnership..

And although Blackpool got some crosses in Lehmann took every catch with the air of authority as he marshalled the back line as if he had never been away, he has a presence about him, a calmness that really does settle the team…..

Fabregas was back and although not at his majestic best, his array of passing was on show as he looked to open up the seasiders, a delightful lobbed pass over the Blackpool back line saw van Persie’s control just let him down as the ball ran through to Kingston.

Arsenal really began to control the game as Blackpool found it difficult to maintain the early pace, Diaby intercepted and strode forward with purpose, laying off to Cesc, Diaby then thrust towards goal, as Cesc pinged the ball wide left to van Persie, who only needed to play the ball across the area to an Arsenal player, yes for once someone was in the area!! Honest!! As Diaby just ended the move he started with ease, 1-0……..

It wasn’t long before it was 2-0 with the goal of the game for me, Eboue cutting in from the right played a one-two with Wilshere, as he took the ball on the return in his stride and absolutely smashed in the far top corner….If that had been Rooney and Scholes, the press would have wet themselves, that was a goal of a high quality……

Arsenal tried to put the game to bed, but for the rest of the first half they had a bit of a Torres spell……Most memorable moment came when Nasri couldn’t quite get the ball out of his feet to get a shot off inside the area, he was pushed wide, he played the ball back across and darted into the box again as Fabregas sent a sublime chip into his path, as the keeper came out, nasri struck across the ball, which hit the post and away, that would have been a quality goal, one we all knew we needed.

Just before Half Time Blackpool signalled their intentions not to lie down, when they got down the right and put the ball across into a melee, somehow a faint touch from Lehmanns outstretched leg stopped the ball going in and Fabregas calmly took the ball away.

In the 2nd half, Blackpool took the game to Arsenal, with more gusto than a Talksport presenter criticizing Arsenal……

As Blackpool broke again, little Jack stretched to a tackle, but brought himself a yellow, Mason waved play on, Blackpool attacked at pace, as DJ danced into the box he took the ball towards the goal, Lehmann, came out and took him down, the ball fell to Taylor-Fletcher who tapped into the empty net, game on…..

As much as I rate Lee Mason as the worst referee I have seen in the premiership (he was the ref at the Everton home match), fair play to how he handled this phase of play……Lehmann could have seen red… (Lucky Break No1)

Blackpool really went for it and Arsenals steadiness of the 1st half was replaced with some ropey impressions of Bambi on ice, then lucky break no2, Koscienly took Taylor-Fletcher out just inside the area with what was a stone-wall penalty…..Mason waved them away, ying and yang somehow playing their part, me thinks….

Wenger made his first substitution with an inevitable early retreat for Arshavin, I think we could all see that coming a mile off.  Walcott’s entrance would add an extra threat that would finally seal the points.

But the start of the move for the points bagger, must see high praise for Toto, who slid in for a perfect tackle, taking the ball away just as Blackpool threatened again, Diaby mopped up the ball but was under immediate pressure, he twisted and turned and got a chip pass through to Cesc, who first time helped it on to the jet fuelled Theo, who disappeared down the right faster than Rooney chasing a Camera man, he passed across to van Persie who passed the ball into the bottom right hand corner. Game over, planets re-aligned…..

Ratings:

Lehmann: 8: Probably a tad generous with his near red moment, but then it wouldn’t be Jens without that; I just liked the authority he has, barking his orders and berating the slightest error….keeps them on their toes. Made a couple of good saves as well……Does he have 7 more games in him?

Eboue: 8: Still has the ability to frustrate with his acting ability, but I love the way he takes the game to the opposition, not afraid to see a gap and attack it, his goal was superb.

Koscienly: 7: Solid enough game, but lucky not to give away a penalty, but apart from that I felt he did his job without too much problems.

Squillaci: 8: Very solid, read the game well, cannot remember any mistakes and his tackle that started the move for the 3rd goal was exceptional.  For me, probably controversially, my MotM…

Clichy: 7: Had a decent game apart from his moment of “Total Liability” when he decided to dwell on the ball and acts like a lemming……For me it is a too regular occurrence, Spurs, Birmingham etc.

Fabregas: 7: Fantastic Passing, orchestrated attacking moves like only he can, just lacked a bit of sharpness in his movement, but he is nursing his hamstrings….

Diaby: 7.5: Started and Finished the move for the opener, and was instrumental in the 3rd, got a silly booking before half time. This is the Diaby I defend continuously….although he has even more to give, physically he can dominate games if his head is in the right time dimension.

Wilshere: 7: Although no where near his best in affecting the game creative wise, but he kept in there and was involved throughout in physical encounters, never gives up, has the right attitude for me.

Nasri: 7: Looked more himself today, still not as sharp as before his injury, but getting there. When we were on top he really was buzzing, probing and trying to get at their fullbacks. Nearly scored twice…….

Van Persie: 7: Good game, unfortunate the ball ran away from him on one occasion and another he just seem to half hit it. Took the goal well to seal the points, worked hard, just needs to be a tad more clinical at times.

Arshavin: 6: Not involved enough for me, after a couple of better performances lately, but he needs the team to involve him more. Personally I would play him behind Van Persie, would be much more effective, but I am no Professor…….

Subs:

Walcott :7:  Lively and Jet fuelled, want him to be more selfish when near the goal, but there again that’s not in our locker….

Gibbs and Ramsey: Too little time to judge…..

Wenger: 9: End of a turbulent week for Le Boss, his handling of the press set the scene for a punchy response from his team. Made the right changes to the line up and made the substitutions at the right times…..

Roast Dinner at Pub with Man United Mates: Priceless …………

Overall:

Some decisions went for us, some didn’t, its argumentative who had the real key defining ones, although Kozzers’ was a stonewall penalty, but hey ho that’s football……..It was a great result and a much more impressive performance, still needs to be upped a level for the next seven games, all must win for me.

Away from home we definitely play with more freedom, less fear. With Blackpool fans epitomizing my firm held belief that a crowd can play its part, okay, they didn’t win, but the positive support helped them go through the gears with the speed of Jensen button…..

Footnote:

Probably could do without the talk of takeovers at such a crucial time, but just maybe the distraction could keep the fans from been so negative about the team and Wenger?

And if the takeover sees the return of Double D, this could reignite the successful times he enjoyed with Wenger till his acrimonious departure, I pray…….

2nd Footnote:

Man City think they can buy our Jack for 40million?

For that amount of money they can have his boots, he isn’t going nowhere my middle eastern oil pumpers…..See you all next Sunday……