PFA Young Player of the Year

Following from my look at the PFA Player nominees, here is my look at the Young Player nominees! Now, shout outs this time though unfortunately!

Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea

At the age of 22 Courtois has managed to dislodge Chelsea’s former number one and in my opinion the best goalkeeper of the Premier League in Petr Cech. He is one of a handful of goalkeepers who are challenging Manuel Neuer as the world’s best and I feel that the Belgian is Neuer’s closest rival in terms of not just his ability, but also his potential.

Courtois came straight into the Chelsea team this season after several excellent seasons and showings on loan at Atletico Madrid where he made his name as one of the world’s most promising stoppers. Aside from his incredible shot-stopping ability and athleticism, Courtois’ mental ability and composure help put confidence into the back four in front of him, as well as his imposing 6″ 6 frame.

David De Gea – Manchester United

The first of four players who are on the Young Player of Year shortlist as well as the Player of the Year shortlist, as well as being the second goalkeeper on the list. To read my full inspection into De Gea’s inclusion then read my bit on him in the PotY shortlist review. The one part I will say here is the Spanish internationals performances this season are the only set which have not been consistently scapegoated by United fans, a testament to the amazing season De Gea has had, he is a lot of the reason why United occupy such a high spot in the table.

Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur

This seems to be the year where all the young players take over the Player of the Year category as well, with Harry Kane being the second on this shortlist to occupy a place in both lists and personally he is my favourite to pick up the Young Player award. Kane’s surge to prominence has been a shining light ins dull season for Tottenham who are battling for a Europa League spot as a much-coveted Champions League spot has fallen slightly out of their reach. The question on everyone’s lips will be if the 21-year-old can replicate his excellent form over the coming seasons.

Phillipe Coutinho – Liverpool

If people doubted that Coutinho deserved a place on the Player of the Year shortlist then. His inclusion in the Young Player of the Year shortlist can’t be in question. The Brazilian has been one of two Liverpool players who have been consistently excellent over the course of the season (Jordan Henderson being the other) and who can really hold their heads high despite overall team disappointment. Coutinho will be another hoping to kick-on next season and really make an impact in the Premier League and try and push his team if not to a title then a Champions League spot.

Raheem Sterling – Liverpool

Finally, another player who is only up for the Young Player of the Year award. After a blistering start to the campaign, carrying on his form from last season, Sterling needed to have a break and after the 20-year-old winger returned to action we saw much of the exciting play return with him and he was back to his best, interchanging with his team-mates as part of an exciting Liverpool attack.

Sterling has returned his best-ever goals tally so far of his career this season netting 11 so far. Despite contract talks stalling and wage demands becoming astronomical there is no doubt in my mind that Liverpool would prefer to keep Sterling, who if he can keep his feet on the ground will have an excellent career and Liverpool will want to come to some sort of compromise to keep the prospect.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

The Belgian is the last player on the list, he however is also up for both awards. He is my favourite and the bookies favourite to pick up the Player of the Year award with Spurs striker Kane being the favourite to pick up the Young Player award. But don’t be surprised after his best season so far in West London if Hazard picks up both gongs like Gareth Bale in 2012-13.

PFA Player of the Year nominations and David Luiz

Firstly I’m going to start off by giving a shout out to David Luiz. It is not your fault that PSG decided to fork out a monumentally stupid sum of money on you, man. It meant Jose Mourinho and Chelsea were laughing their way to the bank, €50 million wasn’t it? Even so, when Luiz has a defensive rock like John Terry or Thiago Silva next to him he has the heart of a roaring lion, it goes with his permy mane of hair that envelops his cranium, a cranium where defensive knowledge and solidity doesn’t seem to inhabit. Now I like Luiz, I think he’s a good footballer but defensively he can be so slack. With Germany, Luis Suarez and Barcelona being the most notable beneficiaries of such mistakes. Suarez loves a nutmeg on the poor guy doesn’t he?

Now onto the real business; PFA Player of the Year nominations, and here’s my take on them:

Diego Costa – Chelsea

The Spaniard arrived at Stamford Bridge at the start of the season with a rough reputation and equally as high expectations. But his goalscoring exploits and all-round play have more than justified the hefty price that Chelsea paid for him. His strong and robust style of play have helped the Brazilian-born frontman in the Premier League with a lot of opposition players also trying to get under his skin, but Costa has risen above any negativity drawn towards him and scored goals for his new club.

His great start to the season saw him combine with fellow new signing Cesc Fabregas to devastating effect. He scored seven goals in his first four games and now currently stands on 18 in 22 in the league, which looks set to have contributed to firing Chelsea to their first league title since 2010.

Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur

21-year-old Kane has had an incredible breakthrough season in his first full season in the Tottenham first-team. He was initially restricted to cup and Europa League games but his good goalscoring form saw him usurp Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor and demand a place in Spurs starting 11 where his rise to prominence has been a shining light in a mediocre season for Tottenham. 

He is currently the joint-top goalscorer in the Premier League with 20 goals and he became the first Spurs player to get 30 goals in a season in all competitions since Gary Linekar in 1991-92. His fine form was recognised with a call-up to the senior England national team where he scored on his debut after 79 seconds of being on the pitch after coming on as a substitute.

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal

The Chilean winger joined from Barcelona in the summer for a fee of £35million, making him Arsenal’s second most expensive signing ever. After being a consistently good player for Barcelona and Chile (especially during the World Cup) there were initial doubts as to whether Sanchez could adapt to the Premier League but he quickly dispelled any doubts by producing moments and goals of class and ingenuity for Arsenal consistently over the course of the season.

Sanchez’s work-rate and determination are just as vital in his repertoire as his South American flair.  It is these traits which have endeared him to Arsenal fans just as much as his 22 goals in 45 games in all competitions this season. 

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

Personally, I think Hazard is the favourite for the Player of the Year crown and it’s a long-time coming as it’s the second time in a row he has been nominated. He is the current holder of the PFA Young Player of the Year award and has been the main component in Chelsea’s title chase.

He’s a vital part in the fluid attacking unit that Chelsea possess with his brilliant dribbling skills, balance and touch which have helped him wreak havoc among defences this season. He has scored 18 goals in 45 appearances in all competitions this season as well as laying on heaps of assists for his Chelsea team-mates. In my opinion he has consistently been the best and most exciting player in the Premier League this season and him winning Player of the Year would be a just reward for his efforts.

David De Gea – Manchester United

The Spaniard used to be a scapegoat for Man United’s failings but his talent and potential was never in doubt. After a bad start to his career in England he is now regarded as one of the best goalkeepers not just in the Premier League but in the world.

The Red Devils had a poor start to the season by their high standards and many fans were rightfully frustrated with the team. Even when they did manage to win fans were still disappointed with their play, one player they were never disappointed with was De Gea. He has produced countless match-winning saves and on occasion looked unbeatable between the sticks and is one of the main reasons why United sit so pretty where their early and mid-season form suggested they wouldn’t be so well off.

Phillipe Coutinho – Liverpool

The 22-year-old playmaker has been a controversial inclusion in the shortlist but he is in the shortlist nonetheless and there are obvious reasons as to why. He has been a standout member of the Liverpool team this season producing brilliant goals and moments while consistently playing well to help their push for a coveted Champions League spot.

Countinho’s pace, vision and dribbling skills have allowed him to influence games like no other Liverpool player has been able to do. He has produced important goals in big games and has really stepped up in the eyes of not just Liverpool fans but his Premier League peers as well, which despite the disagreements as to whether he should be in the shortlist or not, justifies his inclusion.

Top ten most disappointing players in 2014/15 – Premier League

Here is my list of ten players who great things were expected of this season but they’ve failed to deliver.

1) Yaya Toure – Manchester City

Last season the Ivorian powerhouse was a key factor in City winning their second Premier League title. He scored 20 goals in the league campaign, only the second midfielder ever to do so, and was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award. He was also included in the PFA Team of the Year as he helped guide City to the league crown, having his highest scoring season in the process with 24 goals in all competitions.

This season, Toure has disappointed City fans with his lackadaisical approach to matches, he has only scored nine goals all season but his impact in games has faded away from the dominance he has had in previous seasons. In the Manchester derby he registered just over 11 kilometres travelled in the game which was the fourth highest of everyone on the pitch, the problem for City and Toure was the slow, lumbering pace at which he travelled. 

2) Adnan Januzaj – Manchester United

Last season Januzaj was one of United’s best players but in all honesty I think he was such a phenomenon because of the Red Devils, quite frankly, awful season. Januzaj scored four goals in his first full season in the first team but it was his exciting play which made the fans buzz about their new teenage sensation. A brace in a 2-1 win away to Sunderland in his first start gave Januzaj the confidence to express himself in what was a new era without Sir Alex Ferguson and he certainly gave the United fans hope.

Summer signings of Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera and the emergence of fellow Belgian Marouane Fellaini in the United squad have limited 20-year-old Januzaj’s chances and his appearances to just 18 so far this season, mostly from the bench, and he has notched no goals. His off-the-boil performances have been questionable, just like his ability to stay on his feet as his tendency to dive has given him a reputation among opposition teams, fans and match officials. He has picked up four yellow cards for diving in his short career so far, the same amount of first-team goals he has scored.

3) Tim Howard – Everton

The American international had a good season in 2013/14 which is what he has become renowned for since his move to Everton, steady if unspectacular. He has kept over 100 clean sheets for Everton and was just two games short of Neville Southall’s record of 212 consecutive Premier League in 2013; he accumulated 210 consecutive appearances which dated back to 2007 and he was behind the third-best Premier League defence last term. Howard’s real excellence came in the World Cup where he broke the record for most saves made in a World Cup match with 15, in a 2-1 loss to Belgium.

Evertonians would have hoped that Howard would have come back from the World Cup in fine form continuing from his quarter-final heroics and last season’s consistency. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case as several high-profile mistakes, injury problems and only keeping four clean sheets mean that Howard has failed to deliver for the Toffees. At 36 years old, Everton may start thinking about a replacement for their stalwart.

4) Per Mertesacker – Arsenal

The BFG (you know what it stands for) was in good form last season, forming an excellent partnership with Laurent Koscielny. His influence was cited as a factor behind Arsenal’s excellent start to the season and he was club captain in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta. Mertesacker was an essential part of Arsenal’s defence as they kept the joint most clean sheets in the league, conceding the fourth least amount of goals. Mertesacker also went to the World Cup with Germany and returned a world champion.

Mertesacker’s form this season has been less than convincing, his early season form saw people question his ability and assume a World Cup hangover. His poor form lately has seen him briefly replaced by January signing Gabriel Paulista to ease the pressure on the 30-year-old German’s shoulders. Some Arsenal fans have called for Mertesacker to be sold at the end of the season as his shortcomings this season have often led to Arsenal conceding goals and invaluable points.

5) Dejan Lovren – Liverpool

The Croatian centre back had an outstanding season last year with Southampton after signing from Lyon, even scoring the winning goal at Anfield against Liverpool in a 2-1 win. His partnership with Jose Fonte was one of the most impressive in the league and he was the fifth highest ranked player from the Premier League in 31st position in Bloomberg Sports’ Power 50 list.

Lovren moved to Liverpool after much speculation about his future, becoming the third player to move from Southampton and Liverpool in the summer transfer window. He cost Liverpool £20million and Liverpool must have wished they bought Fonte instead after some questionable performances from Lovren who instead of being the commanding, no-nonsense centre back to replace Daniel Agger has made some high-profile errors which have compounded Liverpool’s struggles at the back this season.

6) Rio Ferdinand – QPR

After leaving Manchester United last summer following a 12-year stint at Old Trafford where he forged a name as one of the best centre backs of the Premier League era, not to mention becoming one of the most decorated centre backs too winning honours including six Premier League titles, one FA Cup and a Champions League. His contract expired with the Red Devils and he moved to QPR where he was expected to give some high-level experience at the heart of a defence that was expected to be shaky.

Ferdinand’s season has been awful and he has looked every bit of his 36 years of age. He has had a couple of spells out injured and his partnership with Steven Caulker was meant to be a successful one but it had been anything but with QPR languishing in an around the relegation zone for most of the season. Ferdinand also announced in October 2014 that he expects to retire at the end of the season. 

7) Mario Balotelli – Liverpool

The Ghanian-born Italian has always been able to show his talent at past teams and there’s no doubting his ability but there have always been question marks over his attitude and discipline. In his time at AC Milan, Balotelli went through a streak of scoring 12 goals in 13 games, he also started off his time with AC by scoring four goals in three appearances equaling Oliver Bierhoff’s record. Balotelli’s form with Italy was also good in this time giving him many suitors across Europe.

Balotelli signed for Liverpool for £16million and was expected to help fill the boots of the departing Luis Suarez but the 24-year-olds past problems have caught up with him again with his attitude and work-ethic being called into question many times. He has only scored four goals in 21 appearances, with just one of those coming in the league; even that took him 13 appearances.

8) Elaquim Mangala – Manchester City

24-year-old French centre-back Mangala was bought for £31.8million, making him the second most expensive defender in Premier League history and a lot was expected of the Frenchman after he shone at FC Porto, winning consecutive Primeira Liga titles. Reported interest stemmed from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City before the blue half of Manchester pipped any would be rivals to the signature of the promising defender.

Mangala’s City career started well with a performance described by BBC Sport as “colossal” against title rivals Chelsea on his debut. However, six days later against Hull he conceded a penalty and scored an own goal and his performances have disappointed the City faithful ever since. The physically imposing central defender has failed to make much of a positive impact in the first team, failing to permanently hold down a starting spot alongside captain Vincent Kompany.

9) Falcao – Manchester United

When United signed Radamel Falcao on loan from Monaco the Premier League stood up and took note of the sleeping giants. For years, the Colombian has been one of European footballs hottest properties; from his time with Porto to his stint in Monaco, the lethal frontman has always scored goals having a scoring record of 155 goals in games in Portugal, Spain and France combined. 

Falcao has endured a torrid time in Manchester having only played 23 games all season and only finding the net four times. His injury troubles have given him lengthy spells on the sidelines and he found himself playing for the under 21s which is a step down from the player who fans thought was going to fire them back to greatness. For £350,000-a-week and a substantial loan fee the fans and the club would have expected more, I can’t see United making his loan move permanent at all, let alone for the fee reported. 

10) Vincent Kompany – Manchester City

Another City player to make it onto my countdown, not very surprising considering their extremely disappointing season so far. Kompany was back to his dominant best last season as he captained City to his, and their, second Premier League crown in three years. He was included in the 2014 Premier League Team of the Year which was a reward for his fine form during the season.

The Belgian has had a season to forget at the heart of the City defence as he has failed to consistently produce the dominant displays which became so synonymous with his style of play. Injuries and inconsistent form from the captain have been replicated across the City squad who have been in and out of form in their attempted defence of their Premier League title and I think Kompany’s form  has personified City’s failings this season; back to their dominant best on occasion, but not often enough.

Top five managers in the world

As promised, here are my top five managers in the world!

Pep Guardiola – Bayern Munich

First up is who in my opinion is the best manager in the world, fair enough the two clubs Pep has managed have been ridiculously talented but you can only work with what you have and he worked tremendously well to make Barcelona and Bayern two footballing machines. He is currently regarded as one of the best managers of his generation due to his success which will no doubt continue.

In 2008, which was his first season in charge of Barcelona, he guided them to the treble and in doing so became the youngest manager to win the Champions League, Barcelona were also the first Spanish club to achieve the treble. The following season Guardiola won the Supercopa de Espana, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, achieving a sextuple. In 2011, Guardiola was named the FIFA World Coach of the Year, in the same year he was awarded the Catalan Parliament’s Gold Medal (their highest honour) for his services to football.

In 2012 Guardiola resigned as manager of Barcelona after winning 14 trophies in 4 years at the club. At the beginning of the 2013-14 season he took charge of Bayern Munich where in his first season he won the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. His current Bayern team are well on course to win the Bundesliga as they are 11 points clear at the top.

Guardiola’s coaching style has very much been based on the tiki-taka style of play, focusing on ball possession using short passes and clever movement and a disciplined, aggressive pressing style where the ball is won much higher up the pitch. The style is associated with Johan Cruyff’s spell as Barcelona manager whom Guardiola played under, adopting the style in his coaching days.

Guardiola has a win percentage of 73.3% and he has managed Barcelona B, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. As a manager he has won one Tercera Division, three La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, three Supercopa de Espana, two UEFA Champions League titles, three UEFA Super Cups, three FIFA Club World Cups, one Bundesliga and one DFB-Pokal. 

Jose Mourinho – Chelsea

Mourinho made a name for himself in his first spell at Chelsea when he described himself as “The Special One” but he had been making a name for himself in Portugal and Spain way before that. He is regarded by many pundits, coaches and players as the best manager in the world and one of the best managers ever. 

The Portuguese manager started off as an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson and broke off to do his own thing, he had brief but successful spells with Benfica and Uniao de Leiria (who he took to their highest ever league finish). He went to Porto in 2002 and won the Champions League, the Taca de Portugal and two Premeira Liga titles before moving to Chelsea in June 2004.

At Chelsea he won their first league title in 50 years, delivering it with a record points total of 95, in his second season Chelsea retained the Premier League title. In 2008 Mourinho moved to Inter Milan where he guided them to the treble in 2009-10, becoming the first Italian team to do so. In winning the Champions League with Internet became one of five coaches to win the European Cup with two different teams. In 2010 he moved to Real Madrid where he won the La Liga title in 2012, making him one of four managers to win league titles in at least four different countries. After leaving Madrid in 2013, he returned to Chelsea for a second spell.

Mourinho’s style of play is very much based on his tactical knowledge, his emphasis on getting results over playing beautiful football has been both criticised and admired, just like his charismatic personality. Between February 2002 and April 2011, Mourinho went 150 home league games unbeaten. His second unbeaten home league record stretched for 45 games, the 2-1 defeat to Sunderland also ended a 77 game unbeaten league streak at Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho has a win percentage of 66.9%, he has managed at Benfica, Uniao de Leiria, Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. He has won two Premeira Liga, one Taca de Portugal, one Supertaca Candido de Oliveira, one UEFA Cup, two Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, one FA Community Shield, two Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, one Supercoppa Italia, two UEFA Champions League titles, one La Liga, one Copa del Rey and one Supercopa de Espana.

Carlo Ancelotti – Real Madrid

Ancelotti is a manager who is regarded as one of the best of his generation, as well as the second most popular eyebrow in the world behind The Rock. He was a successful player before his managerial days, being one of six men to win the European Cup/Champions League as both a player and manager. 

After spells at Reggina, Parma and Juventus, Ancelotti was appointed AC Milan manager in 2001. He won the Serie A in 2004 and UEFA Champions League in 2003 and 2007. He is one of only two managers to have one three European Cups and is one of five to win it with two different clubs. In 2009, he was appointed Chelsea manager and in his first season led them to a historic League and Cup double, becoming the second non-British manager to win the double. The league win saw Chelsea finish the campaign with 103 goals, becoming the first team to score more than 100 goals in a season.

In December 2011, he signed with recently rich Paris Saint-Germain and in his first full season with the club he won the Ligue 1 title. In June 2013, Ancelotti signed for Real Madrid and in his first season he delivered the historic 10th Champions League title that the club had craved, he has also won the Copa del Rey with Real Madrid which was the clubs 19th Spanish Cup win.

The Real Madrid boss lets his teams express themselves on the pitch which leads to entertaining football. His craving and demand for dynamic attacking football allows him to explore various tactics and embrace different systems while delivering entertaining attacking displays.

The Italian has a win percentage of 59.7% and he has managed Reggina, Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. He has won one Intertoto Cup, three Champions League titles, three UEFA Super Cups, two FIFA Club World Cups, one Serie A, one Coppa Italia, one Supercoppa Italiana, one Premier League, one FA Cup, one FA Community Shield, one Ligue 1 and one Copa del Rey.

Joachim Low – Germany

Personally I couldn’t have a top five managers in the world without having the manager of the holders of the World Cup, Low had a decent pedigree as a club manager but like the story of so many international managers before him, finds his comfort and real skills managing at the international level.

Low started his managerial career at VFB Stuttgart where he won the DFB-Pokal, he had spells at Fenerbahce for a year before going to Karlsruher SC before returning to Turkey as manager of Adanaspor. In October 2001, Low became manager of Tirol Innsbruck and led them to the Austrian Championship, the same year the club was unfortunately declared bankrupt and liquidated, he had a nine-month spell with FK Austria Wien before joining the German national team as assistant manager.

Low was named head coach in 2006 following Jurgen Klinsmann’s departure and at Euro 2008, Low’s first major tournament in charge, Germany were beaten finalists ultimately losing out to Spain. Germany collected the bronze medal in World Cup 2010 and eliminated in the semi-finals in Euro 2012. Germany kicked off their 2014 World Cup campaign with a resounding 4-0 win over Portugal, which wasn’t their biggest win in their campaign. Low masterminded a 7-1 demolishing of Brazil in the semi-final which was Brazil’s worst ever World Cup defeat to book their place in the final where they beat Argentina 1-0 after a Mario Gotze goal in extra time.

Low continued the philosophy which he developed with Klinsmann in the German national setup to play an offensive style. During his tenure he has increased the pace of the German play which has seen them become the best international team in World football, also due to the players at his disposal. He won the FIFA World Coach of the Year 2014 for his World Cup winning efforts.

Low has a win percentage of 54.6% and he has managed at VFB Stuttgart, Fenerbahce, Karlsruher SC, Adanaspor, Tirol Innsbruck, Austria Wien and Germany. He has won one DFB-Pokal, one Austrian football league, one Austrian Supercup and World Cup 2014.

Diego Simeone – Atletico Madrid

Simeone is a player who I didn’t like in his playing days but I couldn’t doubt his talent but since his switch to management I can’t help but love his passion and tenacity – which were synonymous with his playing style throughout his career. 

The Argentina international ended his playing career at Racing in 2006, he then became manager for the same team. When a new manager was elected, Simeone was replaced three months later. He joined Estudiantes in May and led them to their first league title in 23 years. In an October 2006 poll,  Simeone was voted the best manager in the Argentine league. He continued to manage in Argentina until 2011 when he joined Catania. Simeone left Catania after staving off relegation, when he joined Racing for a second spell.

In December 2011, Simeone joined Atletico Madrid and his first season ended in winning the UEFA Europa League. In 2012-13 Simeone won the UEFA Super Cup and Copa del Rey by beating rivals Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu, Atletico finished the season in third place, the club’s best finish since 1996 win they won it. In 2013-14 Atletico recorded eight straight league victories which was their best start in the club’s history, they won the league on the final day of the season and Simeone became the second person to win La Liga as a player and a coach. Atletico collected 90 points in La Liga making the 2013-14 season the most successful in the club’s history.

Simeone’s coaching style is based on his own playing style; he has to mould the team into his own image. He has embedded the same fearsome passion for success he had into Atletico’s setup, the Argentine demands passion and aggression from his players as well as a defensive solidity which has become Atleti’s trademark. Simeone also has an ability to improve the ability of those who he works with, allowing him to reap the rewards.

The Argentine has a win percentage of 54.8% and he has managed Racing, Estudiantes, River Plate, San Lorenzo, Catania and Atletico Madrid. He has won two Argentine Primera Division, one La Liga, one Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, one Europa League and one UEFA Super Cup.

23 reasons why I love Arsenal

Recently I posted 23 reasons why Arsenal upset me. I thought I would balance out the scales a little bit and give you 23 reasons why I love Arsenal. I said this would happen after something more positive had happened in the season; what better way to light the fuse than knocking Man a united out of the FA Cup at Old Trafford with Danny Welbeck scoring the winner and winning in Monaco? Albeit in vein.

Here’s my 23 reasons!

1) History

It is a matter of fact that Arsenal are the third most successful team in English footballing history, behind Manchester United and Liverpool who have a richer history than John D. Rockefeller. Arsenal boast a wealth of excellent achievements in their past; three league and cup doubles, the Invincibles, the players who Arsenal have had play for them, Herbert Chapman, Highbury. Arsenal are a team who have a lot to be proud of in both their history and their traditions.

Arsenal have a trophy-haul which boasts 13 league titles, a joint-record 11 FA Cups, two League Cups, 13 Community Shields, one European Cup Winners’ Cup and one Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (European competition, abolished in 1971 but we still won it, okay?). The Emirates Stadium has a trophy room which isn’t exactly heaving but overall, Arsenal’s trophy room is the third largest in England so overall, we make a good name for ourselves.

2) Arsene Wenger

The Frenchman is all I’ve ever known at Arsenal. Taking over in 1996 when I was four to the cries of “Arsene Who?” He quickly made a name for himself as he won the league and cup double in just his second season. Wenger has had so much longevity that Arsenal have changed stadiums in my lifetime but not managers, this shows not just the longevity of Wenger but the loyalty, which you will read about round about…

.. Now. 

Wenger had offers to go to pastures new with Real Madrid, PSG, France and Barcelona among others. Clubs who had the money and the players that Wenger could use as he pleased and dominate European football along the way, but Wenger had a plan and project at Arsenal which he is determined to finish. Whoever takes over after Wenger has left (or retired) will be envied as he inherits what will be a good squad, no debt and a big stadium. All put into his hands by Mr Wenger.

Another reason why you have to love Wenger is because of his impact not just on Arsenal but English football. Not only did he develop his own style of play and philosophy which became synonymous with his team, but he also changed diets of players and stressed the importance of nutrition by bringing in dieticians managing to get the very best of his players and their bodies. He is given credit for helping to revolutionise training and diets in the highest level in English football.

3) The Invincibles

What a brilliant time this was to be alive. Arsenal went the whole league campaign unbeaten, the first time since Preston had gone the whole league season unbeaten in 1889. The thing which made Arsenal’s achievement even better was the fact that Preston only had to play 22 games, whereas Arsenal had to go 38. Won 26, drew 12, lost 0.

The following season, Arsenal stretched their unbeaten record to 49 games when they ultimately succumbed to a controversial loss against Manchester United at Old Trafford, but history had been made already. Arsenal went unbeaten in the league from May 2003 to October 2004, an amazing achievement in anyones eyes.

Arsene Wenger predicted that Arsenal could go a season unbeaten but was a season too early in his predictions, making himself look foolish at the time. But Le Professeur had the last laugh when his team led by the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires went on to become arguably the greatest team ever assembled to play in the top flight. 

4) Firsts

Arsenal are a team of firsts; first team to go a whole 38-game season unbeaten, first English team to beat Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalonstadion, first English team to beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, first English team to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, first English team to beats AC & Inter Milan at the San Siro. Arsenal’s pedigree in not just the league but also the Champions League is of an enviable stature to most clubs in the country.

5) Thierry Henry

This man gets his own spot. My favourite player ever to grace a football pitch, let alone the Premier League or an Arsenal shirt. The Frenchman was a player that opposition fans couldn’t hate because he was simply that good. Pundits, fans, managers and other professionals will also argue that Henry was the greatest player ever to play in the Premier League, and he was ours!

228 goals in 376 games for the club meant he went down in history as not only the clubs top scorer but he was voted the clubs greatest ever player. The fact I got to watch him in my lifetime is something I am immensely happy that I have seen.

He went from promising striker to failed winger to deadliest striker in the world in the matter of five years and under Wenger’s tutelage he became a legend both for Arsenal and English football. Two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two Community Shields in his spell at the club. Ladies and gentlemen, Thierry Henry.

6) Alexis Sanchez

From the best player of the clubs past, to the best player in the clubs current squad. I haven’t been so excited or happy that we have a player in Arsenal’s team since the aforementioned Henry and Sanchez is a player who demands the best from himself week in, week out.

His attitude is second-to-none, if he loses the ball he will chase back and try to win it back which is the attitude our entire squad needs to take up, which some have in recent weeks/months. 

His endearing mix of power, skill and heart has made the Chilean winger an instant hit with Arsenal fans and with 19 goals in 40 games so far in his first season he is up for the signing of the season award as well as breaking records held by Henry if he carries on in the same vein of form.

7) Faith

I mentioned in my previous 23 reasons why Arsenal upset me post that Wenger put his faith in deadwood and an all too familiar story was brewing that players weren’t quite what was expected of them, but Wenger has produced world class players time and time again through just having faith in them when signing them, or alternatively, when they have come through being a youngster.

Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere and Ashley Cole, to name a few, were players that came through the ranks as youngsters and Wenger backed them. Pires, Henry, Vieira and Robin Van Persie (again, to name a few) were all players who came to Arsenal with wavering reputations that Wenger backed and he bore the fruit of their talents through all of them becoming world-class players.

As a player if everyone is against you, you need to have the backing of someone and Wenger put faith in them even at their worst, which is why he was able to get the best out of the majority of players he has worked with. It can take one person to turn your confidence, and who better than the boss who delegates when you play? 

8) Star Players

A couple of which I have previously mentioned, but Arsenal’s past (and present, sort of) has a plethora of established international players and world class footballers. From players in the past like Liam Brady and Kenny Sansom, to Henry and Bergkamp to the current squad in Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, Arsenal have always boasted world class players in their prime who have made a difference at the club.

9) Emirates Stadium

The Emirates Stadium is the second biggest club stadium in England with a capacity of just over 60,000. The seats are designed to give maximum comfort to everyone inside and there is not a bad seat in the house in terms of view. The design of the stadium and everything behind the scenes has been built with the specific purpose of giving Arsenal the edge over opposition both pre and post-match.

The truth is that The Emirates is just starting to feel like home, after the move in summer of 2006 Arsenal had a good home record and things were starting to fall into place but there was always something missing. Now that Arsenal have settled the debt to the stadium, claimed their first piece of silverware since the move and completed the “Arsenalisation” of the stadium things can really begin to take off. 

We should be proud of the stadium and start to make more effort to make teams fear going there – make noise, don’t leave before 90 minutes and please, please, please.. NO empty seats.

10) The 10 Year Plan

 A sturdy economic plan which would be stuck to and seen out until the clubs debt had been wiped out. In today’s game usually that would mean a Sheikh or Russian billionaire taking over, but not for Arsenal. With his masters degree in economics and the backing of the board, Wenger would draw up the blueprints for our clubs future which would consist of the 10 year plan, not spending over the odds on wages or transfers, consistently bringing in money and maintaining their stature challenging for trophies and being in the Champions League while being a self-sustained modern club, a truly rare spectacle among the top teams.

The trophyless period was unfortunate , but it was also a time of transition. Arsenal had just lost the greatest team in their history due to moving on, old age etc, but under Wenger it has been as predicted, a success. Deals with Puma, Fly Emirates and other smaller commercial benefactors as well as increased ticket and merchandising sales since the move have meant in falling back behind other competitors in terms of on the field success and trophies, they have propelled themselves ahead of their rivals in terms of revenue and self-sustainability. Which was exactly the point.

11) New Finance

Touched upon in the last point, they go hand-in-hand. Arsenal’s new found finance in the last couple of seasons has seen them be able to spend big on Ozil (£42million) and Sanchez (£35million), which Arsenal fans were crying out for, we wanted marquee signings and we got them. 

We had to see the pain of selling big players; Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure all left for a minimum of £15million each and that was to see the 10 year plan through. Now Arsenal are reaping the rewards as they are able to spend more freely due to having no debt, and no debt means no worries. 

Arsenal were able to record £301.9million turnover from 2014 alone. Driven by improved broadcasting income, commercial deals and FA Cup success this can be only a foundation for things to come. In 2014 Forbes estimated the club as the fifth most valuable association football club in the world, with the value at over £1.3billion.

12) Champions League

Yes, Arsenal have never won the Champions League. Yes, I still cry about that night in Paris in 2006. But Arsenal have consistently been in the competition, delighting us with epic European nights (and upsetting us) for 17 consecutive seasons, a feat only surpassed by Real Madrid and Manchester United.

We have had the revenue which Champions League football brings, as well as the type of player it attracts when it comes to signings for that entire period – sometimes it’s like we’re spoilt when we complain that we’ve only got in the Champions League. Yes, we’re used to challenging but we consistently are seen as one of the top teams in Europe, a major footballing power and it’s something we take for granted.

We also hold the record for most consecutive clean sheets in the competition with ten, so it’s not as if we’ve only been there making up the numbers this whole time.

13) Never had debt problems

Arsenal have never been a team with major debt problems. So it’s a good basis to becoming a self-sustainable club right? Before the signing of Ozil, Arsenal’s biggest spend on a single player was Andrey Arshavin at £15million, which is a relatively small fee compared to other clubs at the time. The wages were never astronomical so Arsenal were always spending within their limits.

The move to The Emirates did produce a debt of £370million but Arsenal adjusted accordingly, balanced the books and now with the debt wiped off things continue to look up for the Arsenal accounting team.

14) Pre-season hope

Because what is better than false hope, right? It is hope nonetheless after all and without hope you can’t create a dream. Arsenal will always do well in pre-season with fringe players and younger players having a promising campaign, signings made and Wenger’s usual words of optimism. It always gives you a nice little warm fuzzy feeling doesn’t it? Which is usually eradicated by February, but we have the hope nonetheless.

15) “Arsenal goal”

This term was used whenever a team would score a goal with multiple team members getting involved in a team move, or a fast-paced counter-attack. This term was used because of Arsenal’s fast flowing attacking play which is a philosophy brought in by Wenger which has brought the manager and his teams a lot of plaudits.

Goals in recent seasons from Jack Wilshere (vs Norwich) and Olivier Giroud (vs West Ham) have rekindled the type of play which Arsenal were renowned for, I just hope it can continue and lead to more silverware on a regular basis!

16) Good Squad

The fact is this probably the best squad we’ve had since 2007/2008, and it certainly has a lot more depth than that squad did! The fact is that every single member of the Arsenal first team is an established international and all back-up and rotational members are still of good enough calibre to be good replacements. Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin have come into the squad as replacements and staked claims to make their spots their own.

For the first time in years Arsenal have multiple good options in every position and that is going to be an excellent advantage going into this summers transfer market with only a couple of players needing to come in.

17) Club Stature

Eluded to earlier. Arsenal are the third most successful club in English footballing history. The only team ever to go 49 league games unbeaten, joint record FA Cup winners with 13 league titles too and a fan base of over 100 million supporters – making them the third lost supported team in the world. Yes, we have faltered since our dominant period but we are still regarded as one of the biggest clubs in the world, something we should be extremely proud of.

We have one of the best records in the top flight, having accumulated the second most wins and the second most points and We would be placed first in an aggregated league of the entire 20th century. 

18) No-one can say we’re glory hunters

After a nine-year trophy drought no-one in their right mind can say we’re glory hunters.

19) Three League and Cup doubles

Arsenal have the joint-most league and cup doubles with Manchester United with three each. We are one of two to achieve it in the 20th century and one of two to achieve it in the 21st century. We are the only team to achieve it in two different centuries. Arsene Wenger is responsible for two of the doubles which Arsenal have won and he won his first in just his second season in charge of the team.

20) Highbury

It was unfortunate that Arsenal had to move away from Highbury but for the clubs future it was the best thing to do, but the history ingrained at the old stadium is one we can be proud to carry over to The Emirates. Parts of Highbury have been reinstalled at The Emirates Stadium as part of the “Arsenalisation” of the stadium – the clock which has been at Arsenal since 1930 was repositioned on the south stand. The marble halls were reinstalled along with the bust of Herbert Chapman.

Arsenal were at the old stadium for 93 years and it would have been lovely in the final season to bring the Champions League as a curtain call but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way, but the history that Highbury holds is no doubt a huge part of Arsenal Football Club.

Highbury has now been developed as a residential development known as Highbury Square with parts of the East and West stands being incorporated due to their listed status.

21) At least we’re not Tottenham

Imagine a club moving from South London onto your doorstep in North London and building a richer history and greater stature than you. Congratulations, you are now Tottenham.

No matter how bad a season goes for Arsenal, you can almost guarantee that a season has gone worse for Tottenham. Tottenham haven’t finished above Arsenal since 1995 and it’s starting to annoy them somewhat, even coming to within a matter of goal difference a couple of times since. Arsenal also hold the cards in terms of results with Arsenal winning 77 ties and Tottenham winning 55. So there you go, we could have it worse.

22) English core

Now I don’t feel that an English core is key, but I do feel that having a core of a particular nationality is vital for communication and harmony in a dressing room. The English core is able to give the media what they want and keep the critics quiet but with Aesenal’s core of English players there really is an excitement that follows the talent on show. 

Gibbs, Chambers, Wilshere, Welbeck, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain are all extremely talented players and with the oldest being Theo Walcott at just 26 years old, you can’t help but feel that as this squad gets older they will get closer and ultimately Arsenal will profit when their talent and maturity bears fruit.

23) Nurturing young talent

Arsenal, and more specifically now Wenger, have become renowned for finding young, talented players and nurturing them into something world class.

Henry, Fabregas, Van Persie, Vieira, Nicolas Anelka and Marc Overmars, to name a few, have all come to Arsenal and left after getting success at the club and leaving for fees astronomically bigger than those which they were signed for – a trend which has carried on unfortunately but Wenger’s penchant for finding talent in youngsters is second-to-none.

Premier League top five: Most Improved

The Premier League has seen a lot of individual performances improve over the course of the season, here is my top five most improved in the Premier League!

Francis Coquelin – Arsenal

The French defensive midfielder has been at Arsenal since 2008 and has been both in and out of the team and out on loan multiple times. But during the second half of this season Coquelin has been a revelation in the Arsenal first team, providing the mobile defensive midfield option that fans have so desperately craved for the last few seasons.

With Gooners crying for the money to be spent on an out-and-out defensive midfielder for as long as anyone can remember, Arsene Wenger was under mounting pressure to find an option – Krystian Bielik was bought in and it was underwhelming to say the least for the fans. Coquelin was brought in from the shadows and has been the answer to Arsenal’s defensive midfield problems thus far.

His passion, defensive positioning and tackling has seen a new lease of life enter the Arsenal first-team. He is also one of the longest serving players at the club, having been at the club since 2008 but only making 43 appearances in the previous seven years, in which he also had loan spells at Lorient and SC Freiburg.

This season started late for Coquelin as he joined Championship side Charlton in November on an initial month-long loan which was extended through December, he was recalled after making five appearances due to the injury crisis at Arsenal. Manager Arsene Wenger said:” I saw that he made huge improvements in training so I sent him on loan for match practice.” On December 28th he made his first Premier League start in 23 months against West Ham, after impressing he retained his spot against Manchester City where he impressed further and he has been an important member of the starting eleven ever since.

Jordan Henderson – Liverpool

For me this is the biggest improver on the list. Bear in mind that in 2012 that Henderson was told by Brendan Rodgers that he could leave Liverpool but opted to stay. It was around that time that many Liverpool fans were calling for the midfielder to be sold, just a year after his £20million move to Liverpool but they must be glad that Rodgers kept his faith in the Sunderland born midfielder. 

Fast forward three years and Henderson has been made Liverpool vice-captain and is looking the most likely to be made captain after Steven Gerrard departs for LA Galaxy in the summer, which would make him one of Liverpool’s youngest ever captains at 25.

Henderson has been a regular in Liverpool’s team this season, playing a part in all but one of their league games. He has shouldered the responsibility of vice-captain excellently in Gerrard’s recent absences as he started captain throughout February, a run which saw Liverpool unbeaten. 

His versatility has been a big help in his Liverpool career, meaning he can play right wing, right midfield, right back, as well as the centre midfield role which he has made his own. His hard-working attitude, alongside his improved technical ability make him a fan-favourite at Anfield these days, which was never made more obvious than when the unveiling of Henderson as vice-captain was greeted with such positive feedback.

Nacho Monreal – Arsenal

Arsenal signed Monreal in 2013 as competition for first-choice left back Kieran Gibbs and initially made a decent start to his career in North London but a dip in form saw the Spaniard go down in the mind of fans, who have always seen Gibbs as first choice.

Monreal found a new lease of life earlier this season after being put at centre back after an injury crisis forced Arsene Wenger’s hand in putting the 29-year-old in an unfamiliar role, where he did a good job. This experience helped Monreal both tactically and physically which he has now been able to put into practice back into his more preferred role on the left side of defence.

The criticism for Monreal was unfair I felt, he became a magnet for criticism which was very harsh. Even if he played well there were sections of fans who would blame Monreal for the entire teams failings. Of course he had his struggles but ask a left back to play in a position they’re unfamiliar with and there will be struggles but he was by no means the root cause of Arsenal’s woes.

Since being put back in at left back Monreal has seen himself retain his role at the expense of Englishman Gibbs, even scoring an important goal in the recent victory against Manchester United which summed up Monreal’s turnaround. Monreal has been the most consistent and picked member of The Gunners back four this term and he has personified Arsenal’s upturn in form.

Harry Kane – Tottenham

Harry Kane started to make a name for himself at the end of last season when he scored three goals in three games but was still a relative unknown in the Premier League. This season he has propelled himself to be the third highest top scorer in the Premier League with 16 goals, just two goals off top scorer Diego Costa.

His form has seen Kane thrust into the spotlight and he is set to receive a call-up to the England team in the next round of international fixtures with England taking on Lithuania in a Euro 2016 qualifier and a friendly in Italy four days later.

Kane has scored 26 goals in 41 games this season. He has also won two Player of the Month awards and has undoubtedly been one of the start players of the season – not bad for someone who had only scored 21 goals in his senior career before this season.

Kane has also helped Tottenham’s cause beyond goal-scoring this season. After scoring a hat-trick against Asteras Tripoli in a Europa League group stage match, Kane had to go in goal after Hugo Lloris was sent off with no substitutes remaining – unfortunately conceding the only goal Tottenham conceded all game. But we were here to talk about his goal-scoring exploits, not his goal-saving!

Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool

The Brazilian playmaker is a firm favourite at Anfield but his career at Liverpool has been littered with inconsistency so far since his £8million move from Inter Milan. By the way, I am still very confused as to why they let Coutinho go for such a low prices for the calibre of player he is.

Recently Coutinho has flourished in the Liverpool team in the flowing attacking midfield role that he takes up. He has been pulling the strings in the midfield and chipping in with goals too, three of his recent goals coming against Bolton, Southampton and Manchester City all being nominated for their respective goal of the month competitions, with his strike against Southampton winning Premier League goal of the month for February.

Coutinho’s end product has undoubtedly been the most improved side of his game as well as his ability to take hold of big games, just ask Manchester City and their back line who felt the force of Coutinho in full flow. He has scored big goals in big games as well as putting in the match winning performances to boot, which Liverpool have lacked so often this season.

Coutinho had an excellent start to his Liverpool career but consistency has been his problem. An average start to his season coupled with Liverpool’s poor form made the youngsters performances look even worse but his emergence since has coincided with Liverpool’s turnaround in fortune which has seen them go for the top four and have a good cup run.

Top five strikers in the world

Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich

The highly sought-after Polish international was snapped up on a free by Bayern when his contract at rivals Borussia Dortmund expired. He signed a pre-contractual agreement in January 2014 after much speculation about the clinical striker and his future and he was then presented to Munich fans in July of the same year. His world class forward play leading a phenomenally talented Dortmund front line earned him the move to the most successful team in German football and he hasn’t looked back.

His move garnered much controversy, as had his team-mate Mario Gotze’s move the year before. But Lewandowski’s attitude endeared him to the Dortmund fans meaning his departure didn’t leave them with as bitter of a taste in their mouth.

Lewandowski’s style of play can be seen as the ultimate striker. Using a combination of strength, speed and hard-work as well as his assured technical ability to cause havoc in opposition boxes. 

To date he has made 333 career club appearances, scoring 179 goals. He has played for Znicz Pruszkow, Lech Poznan, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. He has also made 66 appearances for the Polish national team, who he captains, scoring 23 goals.

He has won one Ekstraklasa, one Polish cup, one Polish SuperCup, two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal and one DFL-Supercup.

Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

His name is forever etched in the mind of Premier League fans after that dramatic title win in 2012, City fans have even gone to the length of getting his name lengthened on the back of their shirt to commemorate Aguero’s (and Martin Tyler’s) contribution that day. 

The Argentine striker has made a reputation for himself since arriving at Manchester City in 2011 and that reputation is that he is one of the deadliest strikers the Premier League has ever seen. As of right now he has the highest goals per minute ratio in the history of the Premier League averaging a goal every 115 minutes.

Aguero’s diminutive stature is what allows him to utilise his agility and acceleration, but his stocky build makes him surprisingly hard to shake off the ball despite his lack of height. Combine his physical attributes with his close control and shooting ability and it’s hard not to see why City paid £35million for him and why he is one of the best strikers not just in the Premier League, but also the world.

To date, Aguero has made 435 club career appearances, scoring 221 goals. He has played for Independiente, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City. He has also made 59 appearances for the Argentina national team at senior level, scoring 22 goals.

He has won one UEFA Europa League, one UEFA Intertoto Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, two Premier League titles, one Capital One Cup, one FA Comunity Shield and an Olympic Gold Medal. 

Lionel Messi – Barcelona

Best player in the world, best player of his generation, best player ever – these are just some of the opinions held of Lionel Messi by fans, pundits, professionals and coaches alike. What I can’t deny is that Messi is one of the most naturally talented footballers I have ever seen.

Ever since he burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old in 2005, the Argentine has set the world alight and on the date he made his debut I’m not sure many knew just how significant it would be for the footballing world as Messi has broken record after record since. He has broken 49 individual records including La Ligas highest ever goal scorer, Barcelonas highest scorer in their history, most goals in a calendar year and most FIFA Balon d’Or awards. All this and he is still only 27.

Messi has always been known for his pace, acceleration and dribbling but add onto that his incredible passing range and his unerring finishing ability and you have one of the most versatile attacking players ever seen. No matter where you go you will always hear the Ronaldo vs Messi debate as to who is better despite them having two contrasting styles of play , personally I’m just glad that we have the privilege of witnessing them both in our generation.

Messi has so far been a one club man, having been at Barcelona his entire career to date. He had made 495 club appearances for Barcelona, scoring 406 goals. He has also made 97 appearances for the Argentina national team, scoring 45 goals. He was named captain of Argentina in 2011.

He has won six La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey titles, five Supercopa de Espanas three UEFA Champions League titles, two UEFA Supercups, two FIFA Club World Cups and one Olympic Gold Medal. 

Diego Costa – Chelsea

The Brazilian-born striker has set the Premier League alight since his £32million move last year. His physicality and lethal striking instincts have provided Chelsea with the striker they’ve needed since Didier Drogba departed, who ironically rejoined as Costa signed – although no longer at the peak of his powers.

After Falcao left Atleti in 2013 and Costa was made the main striker his strike rate improved after he was made the focal point of the attack. Before that he was very much a fringe player at Vicente Calderon, moving on loan to three different teams and even being sold and brought back again before his successful run in the first team.

Costa’s physical style of play has seen him make an excellent start to his career in England, scoring 17 goals in 27 games for Chelsea and making him a constant thorn in opposition sides. He gained a reputation at Atletico Madrid for his nasty streak but it was utilised by Diego Simeone who helped Costa enhance his discipline but without losing any of his aggression and determination. His attitude added to his excellent physical stature and pace, mixed with his scoring abilities make him an ideal target man for Chelsea, he could prove to be the main protagonist in Chelsea’s title hunt.

The Spanish striker has made 305 career club appearances, scoring 120 goals. He has played for Penafiel, Braga, Celta, Albacete, Real Valladolid, Atletico Madrid and Chelsea. He has made two appearances for the Brazilian national team, scoring no goals. But after his successful request to change his nationality to Spanish, he has made seven appearances for the Spanish national team, scoring one goal.

He has won one La Liga, two UEFA Super Cups, one Copa del Rey and one Capital One Cup.

Luis Suarez – Barcelona

Luis Suarez was the jewel in the Anfield crown during his time at Liverpool, although his time there was mired with controversy he will no doubt go down as one of the most loved strikers in the clubs history, as well as one of the most controversial. His form at Liverpool earned him a £75million move to Barcelona last summer where he endured a tough start but his form has since picked up.

The Uruguayan went from being the main man in Liverpool to being in Messi and Neymar’s shadow but it seems to be a role that Suarez has managed to adapt to. His assists and all-round play, added to his recent improved goal scoring form have meant he has slotted in well in the Barcelona front line, making the most fearsome attacking trio in world football.

Suarez’s style of play mixes his superb technical ability with speed and work-rate. A style of play which seems to be synonymous with South American footballers nowadays mixing flair and skill with an industrious, passionate work ethic.

To date Suarez has made 389 club career appearances, scoring 233 goals. He has played for Nacional, Groningen, Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona. He has also made 82 appearances for the Uruguay national team, scoring 43 goals.

He has won one Primera Division, one Eredivisie, one KNVB Cup, one Johan Cruyff Shield, one Capital One Cup and one Copa America.