Arsenal: a transfer epiphany.

January 9, 2017

You all know the Didit footballing code. Score goals and then score some more. A simple, elegant and entertaining formula. As always, with the transfer window upon us, my thoughts turn to acquiring expensive goal scorers.

At least, my thoughts turned that way until yesterday.

I fell off my surfboard, and in the style of Harry Kane, had forgotten to close my mouth. The body filled with salty water. Time became meaningless and I entered a state of calm. It was as though my old life had vanished as I became becalmed and floated on a peaceful and tranquil cloud. I was free and my mind could move to more pressing matters like the Arsenal transfer window.

Fall-in-Head-First-300x212.jpg

 

Enter Epiphany.

Epiphany was not a striker, not even a wide boy heaving with goals, no, Epiphany was a midfielder.

Across the front, we have goal scorers. Sanchez, Ollie, Welbeck, Perez, Theo and even The Ox. Danny Welbeck has just turned 26, but due to a year out, his body is 25. I have said before I believe he will be a striker, and I also believe that within two years he will be world class.

Mesut plays No10.

Behind him is where Epiphany slots in. We know Coquelin and Santi are the strongest pairing, and we know Elneny, Xhaka and Aaron are squad players.

Arsene has tried every permutation of the above runners and riders and nothing works as well as Coq Santi, with the latter’s days numbered because of his short legs.

There is also another glaring weakness. A true leader. In other words, we’re looking at a man with the spirit of Adams, the touch of an angel, the heart of a lion and the vision of an eagle.

Are these kind of midfield generals easy to come by? Are there any out there?

Of course money is not an obstacle. We have cash and can also trade up. Any ideas?

 


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 6

July 4, 2013

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

17. Robert Pires: 2000-2006.

Robert appeared in 284 matches over a 6 year period.

article-1287109-01C84CBA0000044D-155_468x286Born in Reims France, he is a graduate of the FC Metz youth academy, making his senior debut in 1993 against Lyon. During his six seasons there, he scored 43 goals in 162 matches, and won the Coupe de la Ligue, prompting a £5 million move to Olympique de Marseille in 1998, where he stayed for two year years.

Robert was signed by Arsenal for £6 million in 2000, after stiff competition from Real Madrid and Juventus. Initially his form was indifferent, and he was criticised for his comments that the English game was too physical. By 2001–02, he had fully got to grips with the English game and had one of his best seasons scoring many excellent goals. He led the Premier League assist charts and was voted both FWA Footballer of the Year and Arsenal’s player of the season, as Arsenal won the league title. This was despite not playing the last two months of the season after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in a FA Cup match against Newcastle United. This also ruled him out of playing in the 2002 World Cup with France.

After a lengthy layoff, he made his comeback in November 2002 and was voted Barclaycard Player of the Month for February 2003 and capping off his season by scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final against Southampton. He went on to be a crucial part of Arsenal’s quest for the Premier League title in the 2003–04 season, which they achieved, remaining unbeaten and becoming the first English top flight club to do so in 115 years. Robert along with his Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry was a key player in that season, scoring a combined 57 goals in all competitions. In the 2004–05 season, he finished third in the Premiership goal scorers table and also picked up a second FA Cup winners’ medal after Arsenal beat Manchester United on penalties. His final game for Arsenal was in the UEFA Champions league final against Barcelona, in which he was substituted after goalkeeper Jens Lehman received an early red card.

In May 2006, he agreed to join Spanish side Villarreal. He joined on a free transfer, bringing to an end his six-year career as an Arsenal player. In 2009, he faced Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, Villarreal were defeated 4–1 on aggregate, but Robert received a warm return from the Arsenal supporters, who sang his name throughout both legs. He was told in May 2010 that his contract would not be extended and he would have to look for a new club during the summer.

He won 79 caps for his country and scored 14 goals. He won the Golden Ball (for most outstanding football) and Golden Shoe (for most goals scored) awards at the 2001 Confederations Cup in Korea/Japan.

18. Freddie Ljungberg: 1998-2007. 

Freddie appeared in 328 matches over a 9 year period.

ljungberg_display_imageHe was born in Vittsjö, Sweden. Between when he was 5–14 years old, Freddie was coached by Olle Eriksson. He credits Eriksson for having a profound effect on his career as well as Brazilian football player, Sócrates. Also in his youth, he enjoyed playing ice hockey and developed a talent for handball; but decided to concentrate his attentions on football. Freddie also did well in academic subjects as well as sports and at 18 he decided to attend university, but struggled to balance the hectic academic timetable with the physically demanding commitments of football. Eventually, he quit university to concentrate on his football career.

He made his senior debut for Halmstad in October 1994 in the Allsvenskan against AIK. In 1995, he played 31 games in which he scored his first goal as a professional player. that same year Halmstad won the Swedish Cup. During his time with Halmstad, he made 139 appearances and scored 16 goals and he also won both the Swedish Cup and League title with the club. After two years with Halmstad, his star was on the rise with interest from Barcelona, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Parma and Arsenal.

Freddie was signed by Arsenal in 1998 for £3 million, Arsenal scouts watched him for over a year and Arsenal’s manager, Arsène Wenger, took the unusual step of authorising the signing after watching him play for Sweden in their victory against England on television, without seeing him play live. Freddie scored on his debut on 20 September after coming on as a substitute against Manchester United. He endeared himself to Arsenal supporters by having a bright red stripe in his hair. (A popular chant spawned from this to the tune of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons: “We love you Freddie, because you’ve got red hair, we love you Freddie because you’re everywhere, we love you Freddie, you’re Arsenal through and through” Later when he shaved his head this was updated to “We love you Freddie, because you’ve got no hair”).

Freddie became the first player to score a goal at an FA Cup final outside England, when Arsenal lost against Liverpool in 2001 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. A year later, against Chelsea, he became the first player to score in consecutive FA Cup Finals. He also scored a penalty in the shootout in Arsenal’s 2005 FA Cup Final victory over Manchester United. In 2008, he placed 11th in Arsenal.com’s Gunners’ Greatest 50 Players.

After nine years at Arsenal, Freddie joined West Ham United on a four-year contract, later agreeing to terminate his contract only one year into the four-year deal.

On 28 October 2008, MLS team, Seattle Sounders officially announced they had signed Freddie as their Designated Player for the 2009 season. The terms of his contract saw Ljungberg earn $10 million over two seasons with the Sounders. Much like the contract of David Beckham and as is the norm for professional sports stars in the US, Freddie’s contract allowed him to retain all of his private endorsement money.  In July 2009, Freddie was selected for starting MLS’ All-Stars; selection for the All-Star team is based upon votes from players, coaches, general managers, members of the media and an online fan voting system. Ljungberg received the most votes among fans, a testament to his popularity in the MLS. He was also appointed captain of the 2009 MLS All-Star Team in their game versus Everton.

He was traded to Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire on 30 July 2010, after 15 league appearances, Freddie announced that he would be leaving Chicago at the end of the 2010 MLS season.

He has represented his country at Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004, the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008, and in total he has represented Sweden on 75 occasions.

On 24 August 2012, Ljungberg announced his retirement from football.

19. Gilberto Silva: 2002-2008.

Gilberto appeared in 244 games over a 6 year period.

Manchester+United+v+Arsenal+Premier+League+5LK__Q7P34HlBorn in Lagao da Prata, Brazil, he was raised in a poor family and as a child he balanced playing football with various labour jobs. He began his football career in 1997 with América Mineiro, where good form earned him a move to Atlético Mineiro in 2000. He became a star player for Atlético, playing for three years in the Brazilian Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. He came to particular prominence when he helped the Brazilian national team win the 2002 FIFA World Cup, playing in all seven of Brazil’s matches.

Arsenal signed Gilberto in August 2002 for a fee of £4.5 million. Upon signing Gilberto, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said, “What I like was the fact that he kept things simple. He can play all across the midfield but the holding role just in front of the defence is what he does best”. After two substitute appearances, he finally broke into the starting eleven on 27 August. He set a new record for the fastest goal scored in the UEFA Champions League, scoring after 20.07 seconds against PSV on 25 September 2002.

Even though he suffered a lapse in form towards the end of the season, he won an FA Cup winner’s medal, playing in the final at the Millennium Stadium as Arsenal beat Southampton 1–0.

The next season he was an important member of the squad that won Premier League title whilst going the entire season unbeaten. He played in 32 of Arsenal’s 38 unbeaten games during the season. In October 2005, Gilberto made his first appearance for Arsenal as captain, against Sparta Prague. Although Gilberto had a period of bad form during the winter months of the season, his form returned and on 17 May 2006 he played for Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League Final against FC Barcelona, which Arsenal lost 2–1. On 19 August 2006 he scored Arsenal’s first competitive goal at the newly built Emirates Stadium and was made vice-captain of Arsenal in 2006.

Gilberto was called “the invisible wall” his play often went unnoticed as he positioned himself between the two centre backs and the rest of midfield, breaking up opposition attacks before they could gather momentum. He played this role as part of the defensive unit for both club and country.  Both Arsenal and Brazil are both attack minded teams, and he created cover for attacking wing-backs and other midfielders who had a poor record of dropping back to help the defence.

According to ProZone (a data analysis system used by football managers) figures cited by The Sunday Times in January 2007, Gilberto was one of the few midfielders in England to attain “the elite Champions League level” of performance.

He made his international debut against Chile on 7 October, coming on as a substitute. On 7 November, in total he played in 93 games for Brazil.

20. Cesc Fabregas: 2003-2011.

Cesc appeared in 303 matches over an 8 year period.

Cesc was born in Arenys de Mar, Barcelona, he had supported FC Barcelona since childhood and went to his first match when he was nine months old with his grandfather. He began his club football career with CE Mataró, before being signed for Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy aged 10 in 1997. His initial training was as a defensive midfielder playing alongside notable names such as Gerard Piqué and Lionel Messi. He was a prolific scorer, sometimes scoring more than 30 goals in a season for the club’s youth teams.

Cesc+Fabregas+Arsenal+v+Barcelona+UEFA+Champions+ogSuLT1RuEKlSensing that he would have limited opportunities at Barcelona, he joined Arsenal in their Academy, when he was just 16 years old, signing on 11 September 2003. He made his debut for Arsenal not long after, on 23 October 2003, in a League Cup tie at home to Rotherham United. In doing so he became Arsenal’s youngest ever first team player, aged 16 years and 177 days. He then became the youngest goal scorer in Arsenal’s history in a later round of the League Cup, scoring in a 5–1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers. He signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in September 2004. He concluded that first season by gaining his first honours with Arsenal when he was in the starting eleven that defeated Manchester United on penalties in the 2005 FA Cup Final.

After the departure of Patrick Vieira, to Juventus, Cesc was given the number 4 shirt and featured regularly in the Arsenal central midfield alongside Gilberto Silva. He made 49 appearances in all competitions during the 2005–06 season.  He also played in the Champions League Final against his former club Barcelona, Arsenal were defeated 2–1. His increased exposure drew transfer speculation during the summer; Real Madrid expressed a desire to sign him despite his long-term contract with Arsenal.  On 24 November 2008, he was named as the Arsenal club captain. However he was ruled out for four months after sustaining a knee injury against Liverpool.

In August 2011, he signed for Barcelona, ending one of the most protracted transfer sagas in recent times. Statistics show that in the 5 years prior to his departure from Arsenal he created 466 goal-scoring chances, made 75 assists and scored 30 goals.

His international national career began when he represented the Under-17 side at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland. As a result of his club performances, he was called up to the senior squad in 2006. He has played in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2008, 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, helping Spain to become eventual winners in the three most recent tournaments.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 5

July 3, 2013

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

14. Paul Davis: 1978-1995.

Paul appeared in 447 matches over a 17 year period.

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

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

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

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

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

15. Ray Parlour: 1988-2004.

Ray appeared in 466 matches over a 16 year period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16. Patrick Vieira: 1996-2005.

Patrick appeared in 406 matches over a 9 year period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders – Day 4

July 2, 2013

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

11. Liam Brady: 1971-1980.

Liam appeared in 307 games over a 9 year period 

Liam-Brady-ArsenalBorn in Dublin, he started his career at Arsenal, joining the club on schoolboy forms in 1971, at the age of 15, turning professional on his 17th birthday in 1973.

He made his debut on 6 October 1973 against Birmingham City as a substitute. Manager Bertie Mee decided to use him sparingly and Liam ended the 1973–74 season with just 13 appearances, four as a substitute.

In 1974–75 he was a first-team regular and shone a bright light in a side that hovered close to relegation. He found his best form under new manager, Terry Neill – his passing provided the ammunition for Arsenal’s front men and Arsenal reached three FA Cup finals in a row between 1978 and 1980. Arsenal won only the middle of the three, against Manchester United in the 1979 final, with Liam starting the move that ended in Alan Sunderland’s famous last-minute winner. He was nicknamed “Chippy”, not for his ability to chip the ball but for his fondness for fish and chips.

Liam was now at the peak of his form and during this time he was voted the club’s player of the year three times, and chosen as the PFA Player of the Year in 1979. Being from the Republic of Ireland, he was the first player from beyond Britain’s borders to win that award. He was the most talented player in what was then a promising young Arsenal side, which was looking to consistently challenge for honours like the Division One title.

But rumours persisted that he was unhappy. And in 1980, Juventus, who were impressed with his performances against them in the semi-finals of the Cup Winners Cup, signed him in for just over £500,000. He spent two seasons with Juventus, picking up two Italian Championship medals, in 1981 and 1982 and he scored the only goal (a penalty) in the 1–0 win against Catanzaro that won the 1982 title. After the arrival of Michel Platini in summer 1982, he moved to Sampdoria, and went on to play for Internazionale (1984–1986) and Ascoli (1986–1987), before returning to London to play for West Ham United.

He won 72 international caps for the Republic of Ireland, 70 in the starting line-up, scoring 9 goals.

After retiring from playing in 1990, he managed Celtic between 1991 and 1993, and then Brighton & Hove Albion between 1993 and 1995.  He rejoined Arsenal in July 1996, as Head of Youth Development and Academy Director. On 30 January 2013, Arsenal announced that he would leave his role as Director of the Arsenal Youth Academy in May 2014.

He is fondly remembered as one of Arsenal’s all-time greats, playing 307 matches for the Gunners, scoring 59 goals and setting up many more.

12. Brian Talbot: 1979-1985

Brian made 327 appearances over a 6 year period.

Born in Ipswich, Brian was a midfielder and began his football career as an apprentice with Ipswich Town in 1968, turning professional in 1972; in the meantime he had spent two seasons on loan with Canadian club Toronto Metros.

BrianTalbotShootPlace.ashxHe made 227 appearances for Ipswich winning the 1978 FA Cup, in the semi-final against West Bromwich Albion, he scored Ipswich’s first goal after just eight minutes. However he was injured on the play when he collided head-to-head with Albion’s skipper, John Wile and he left the field on a stretcher.

In January 1979, he was transferred to Arsenal for a fee of £450,000, immediately becoming first-team player. He played for the Gunners in the FA Cup final of that year, scoring a goal in a 3–2 victory over Manchester United; Brian thus achieved the unique distinction of winning the FA Cup with two different teams in consecutive seasons. The following year he set a club record, as an ever-present in Arsenal’s marathon 1979–80 season, when he played a total of 70 matches in a single season (the club reached the finals of both the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, but lost them both).

His impressive stamina and fitness meant he played nearly every Arsenal first-team game for the next five seasons, missing fewer than half a dozen League games. In all, the strong and sturdy midfielder played 327 first-team matches for the Gunners, scoring 49 goals. He also played for England, five times while at Ipswich and once as an Arsenal player.

He left Arsenal in June 1985 and joined Watford, he spent a season and a half at Vicarage Road before joining Stoke City in October 1986. His presence helped to inspire the side as Stoke climbed the table and fell six points short of a play-off place. In 1987–88 he made 27 appearances before he left in January 1988 after being offered a player-manager role at West Bromwich Albion. He spent two and a half years in that role before leaving for Fulham in March 1991. After a short spell there he ended his playing career at Aldershot.

He then moved abroad and managed Maltese club Hibernians, where his team won the island’s Premier League in 1993 and 1994, returning to English club football as part of the coaching staff of Rushden and Diamonds, then in the Football Conference, in 1997. After a spell as head coach he was appointed club manager, and at the end of the 2000–01 season Rushden secured promotion to the Football League. In March 2004 he left the club to take over at Oldham Athletic, his spell there ended with him resigning at the end of February 2005.

In 2011, he joined English Premier League side Fulham as a scout where he mostly watches matches in the top leagues for the London club, for example in France or Germany.

13. David Rocastle: 1982-1992

David made 277 appearances over a 10 year period.

gun__1301406982_rocastle12David was born in Lewisham, he spent the majority of his football career playing for Arsenal, joining in May 1982 and turning professional in December 1984. In his early career he faced problems with his eyesight, according to his team mate Martin Keown “They couldn’t work out why David was running around dribbling with his head down. So they took him to the halfway line and said: ‘Can you see the goal?’ and he couldn’t. His eyesight was terrible. They sorted him out with contact lenses and his career took off.”

He made his Arsenal debut against Newcastle United in the 1985-86 season and made 26 league appearances, scoring once. He remained a regular player in the first team following the departure of Don Howe and the appointment of George Graham as manager at the end of the 1985–86 season.  In 1987, just before his 20th birthday, he won a League Cup winners medal after Arsenal beat Liverpool in the final at Wembley. He was a member of the Arsenal side which reached the final against Luton Town the following year and he was ever present in the league in 1987–88.

“Rocky” won two league championship medals with Arsenal. The first came in 1989, when he played in every game. Arsenal’s success was sealed when they beat Liverpool 2–0 in the final game of the season at Anfield, snatching the title from the hosts on goals scored. But Arsenal were unable to compete in the 1989–90 European Champions Cup because the ban on English clubs in European competition after the 1985 Heysel tragedy still had one year to run. In 1990–91, a knee injury restricted him to just 18 league appearances but he still played his part in Arsenal winning the league championship – losing only one league game all season. The following season he only missed three out of 42 league games.

On 23 July 1992, after nearly a decade at Arsenal, he was sold to league champions Leeds United in a £2million deal, making him their most expensive signing. But the good form of Gordon Strachan and injuries kept him out of the side. He was transferred to Manchester City for £2million, but the move to Maine Road was not a success for him and he only managed two goals from 21 Premier League games. At the start of the 1994–95 season, he was transferred to Chelsea in a £1.25million deal.

In 1994–95, David played in nearly 40 games for Chelsea and scored two goals in the European Cup Winners Cup. The following season his injuries returned, and he played just one more game for the club, in October 1995. On completing his contract with Chelsea in 1998, he joined the Malaysian team Sabah on a free transfer but was unable to stay clear of injury and retired in December 1999.

During his time with Arsenal, David was capped 14 times for England, but did not make the squad for either 1990 World Cup or Euro 92.

In February 2001, he announced that he was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer which attacks the immune system. He underwent a course of chemotherapy and was hopeful of a recovery. He died in the early hours of 31 March 2001, aged 33.

The David Rocastle Trust is a charity based in London, England founded in memory of Rocastle.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


Arsenal’s Greatest Midfielders Day 1

June 25, 2013

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

1. John Dick: 1898-1912.

John made 284 appearances over a 14 year period.

Born in Eaglesham, Renfrewshire, John first played for Airdrieonians, but in 1898 he was signed by Woolwich Arsenal as one of manager William Elcoat’s many Scottish signings. A strong muscular centre half, he made his debut for the Gunners on the first day of the season on 3 September 1898, missing only four games of his first season.

arsenal-john-dick-6-futera-promotional-copy-the-captains-of-arsenal-platinum-1998-card-45950-pHe was also a competitive cross-country runner and was known for his formidable endurance, once recording a time of 33’ 45” for a six-and-a-half mile race. He was a near constant in the Woolwich Arsenal side for the next six seasons, missing only one game in 1899-1900. Although he was not known for his scoring, he did manage to score thirteen times in his Arsenal career, including scoring twice in a 12-0 demolition of Loughborough on 12 March 1900, the Gunners’ record win in a competitive match.

He was moved to right half, in 1993 but continued to be a first team fixture as Arsenal won promotion from the Second Division to the First Division in 1903-04. In the meantime he had also become club captain, though by the time promotion had come round, fellow Scot Jimmy Jackson had taken over as skipper.

He played as first-choice right half for in Gunner’s first season in the top flight, becoming one of the first Arsenal players to play in over 200 matches. At the beginning of the 1905-06 season his place was taken by John Bigden, and he stepped down to the reserves. He continued to play sporadically for the first team for the next five years, but never regained a regular place.

In the summer of 1912 he left Arsenal to coach abroad in Prague, and became known for being one of the early pioneers of football in Czechoslovakia, where he coached Sparta Prague. Little is known about John after this period.

In all, he played 284 games for Arsenal in the League and FA Cup, and 30 in other first-class matches.

2. Roddy McEachrane 1902-1915.

Roddy made 346 appearances over a thirteen year period.

Roddy was born in Inverness and moved to Canning Town, London at the age of 20, to work at the Thames Iron Works, and joined the works football team the Thames Ironworks FC.

arsenal-roddy-mceachrane-prominent-footballers-1907-nostalgia-reprint-1992-collectable-card-53327-pHe was a left half-back with a reputation for tough tackling and was a regular for The Irons in the 1898-99 season, helping them to win the Southern League Division Two title. He was again an ever-present the following season, and again during Thames Ironworks’ first season under their new name, West Ham United.

Roddy was also one of the Irons’ first players to turn professional and during his time as a player for the club he appeared in 113 matches scoring 6 goals. In May 1902, he moved south of the River Thames to join Second Division side Woolwich Arsenal, later being joined by ex-West Ham team mates James Bigden and Charlie Satterthwaite.

He made his debut against Preston North End on 6 September 1902, which was Woolwich’ first period of success, finishing third in the 1902-03 season, and then second in 1903-04, which won them promotion to the First Division. Roddy, playing at left half, was near ever-present, and although the Gunners were only a mid-table team in their first stint in the top flight, they reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1905-06 and 1906-07.

Roddy continued to be a stalwart in midfield for the next four seasons, as Woolwich Arsenal finished sixth in 1908-90, with him missing only two games that season, but by 1911 he was 33 and was displaced by fellow Scot Angus McKinnon. He remained at the club for another three seasons as McKinnon’s understudy, although by now the club had fallen on hard times, and were relegated in 1912-13. He played his last first-team match for Woolwich Arsenal on 22 November 1913.

The arrival of World War I suspended all first-class football in England, and with it his career finished. In all he played 346 games for Arsenal in thirteen years, every single one at left half – never scoring a goal.

He holds the Arsenal club record for the most appearances by a player without winning a cap or a medal.

He died in 1952 aged 74.

3. Billy Blyth: 1914-1929.

Billy made 343 appearances over a fifteen tear period.

Born in Dalkeith, Midlothian, Billy played as a schoolboy for local junior side Wemyss Athletic. For a short period of time he played for Manchester City before signing for Arsenal in May 1914.

arsenal-william-blyth-11-futera-promotional-copy-the-captains-of-arsenal-platinum-1998-card-45944-pHe made his debut for the Gunners, in a Second Division match against Huddersfield Town on 21 November 1914, a game that Arsenal lost 3-0. He made twelve appearances in 1914-15 but by then World War I had broken out, and he joined the Royal Army Service Corps, serving in France.

When football resumed, at the end of WW1 hostilities, he returned to Arsenal and immediately became a regular in the newly-promoted side. An energetic midfielder, he usually figured on the left of midfield, as a left half or inside left. He became a mainstay in the side, with over 300 league games in ten seasons, becoming club captain in 1925. He also played in the 1927 FA Cup Final, Arsenal’s first cup final, which they lost 1-0 to Cardiff City.

He was transferred to Birmingham in May 1929, playing his last first-team game in September 1930 before retiring at the end of the 1930–31 season. Billy also starred in one of the first football-related films, the 1930 production The Great Game. After retiring, he moved back to Scotland, and ran a pub in Port Seton.

In total, he played 343 matches for Arsenal, scoring 51 goals.

He died in Worthing, West Sussex in 1968 at the age of 73.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile