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.

23 reasons why Arsenal upset me

The reason why I started this blog initially was because I had a lot of football opinions and Twitter doesn’t provide me with enough characters to put across my opinions in the depth I want, that and a University module. Now I simply post a link where you lovely people can see my opinions and I don’t need to write 1,000 tweets about the subject in question.

As you know I am an Arsenal fan (if you don’t, you do now) and this season has proved to pan out upsettingly similar to the rest – it starts off with much promise and slowly (or in the case of this season IMMEDIATELY) starts to go downhill.

I have listed 23 reasons why Arsenal upset me. Now I could probably list you 23 reasons why Arsenal make me happy, but after a 3-1 home loss to Monaco that one isn’t likely, so keep an eye out and that one could come out soon when I’m feeling more optimistic. 

1) Unfulfilled Potential

Arsenal are a team a lot like the players they have at their disposal, one that has/had buckets of potential yet has failed to live up to that potential through one way or another, whether it be through injury or lack of form etc. The one which is currently sticking out in my mind is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox has had many injury setbacks in his time at Arsenal and we are still saying he could be one hell of a player, which there is no doubt he can, but it’s something that we’ve been saying for the last two or three years. 

Arsenal are of a similar mould. Injuries and lack of form have meant that they have failed on multiple fronts. In the league since they last won it in 2003/2004, they have held a leading position many times yet always seem to lose grip and bottle it with many of the key players ending up injured for a long period or out of form at crucial times. 

Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are all players in the current squad who have been hindered by injuries, cutting short their progress. Obviously there is still time but fans patience is running thin as we have seen it all before. The point can be summed up by Arsenal’s trophy drought – one trophy in nine years when in fact it could and should have been so much more.

2) Injuries

I saw a stat the other week which shocked me. Arsenal players missed a combined 1716 days through injury last season alone. This stat was published the same time that it was announced Aaron Ramsey would miss more time out with his third hamstring strain of the season – I’ve seen the Arsenal physios and medical team so I do know they exist, but due to the amount of injuries suffered by players in the club it’s hard to see whether they do anything. 

I believe a lot of it does come to Wenger and how the players are pushed further than their bodies can take.  Last season, Walcott missed six weeks with a muscle injury, he was pushed back into competition and last January picked up a knee injury which saw him miss 10 months – a renowned German expert claimed that this injury was one which could have been avoided had Theo not been rushed back.

This season it’s the same old injury story. Koscielny, Debuchy, Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil and Giroud (to name a few) have missed chunks of the season through injury. Also, don’t get me started on Diaby, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve forgotten he’s an Arsenal player.

3) Selling big players

Arsenal have sold one of their best players in each of the last ten years. Last summer they did stick to another trend too, the trend where we sell the club captain. I’m starting to think that the captaincy means nothing at Arsenal anymore (more on that later). 

Joining the “captains” who were sold despite being key players in the team were Alexander Hleb (remember him?), Bacary Sagna, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Alex Song among others. Arsenal were never going to build a successful team when there are so many incomings and outgoings of key players in the squad.

4) The Wenger Hokey-Cokey

Now you may think I’m drunk due to the way I’ve worded this, but trust me, it’ll make sense when I say this – #WengerIn #WengerOut – are you with me now?

The social media age (particularly Twitter) has spawned the introduction of hashtags and the amount of people who switch allegiances between Wenger In and Wenger Out is astounding. He is a manager who has not just changed Arsenal, but has also changed English football, so can we please show the man who is behind the Emirates Stadium, an Economics Masters Degree, six languages and the Arsenal Football Club as you currently know it a little more respect please? His tactics and selections are a little off at times but it would be better to just stick by him until he leaves because what he has done for Arsenal deserves the utmost respect.

5) Inconsistency

Arsenal are perhaps the most inconsistent team out of the top teams. This can be summed up as such – Arsenal go to the Etihad Stadium, a stadium where they lost 6-3 the season prior, a stadium where nothing was expected due to their inability to beat top teams away from home (let alone at home) and beat the reigning champions of England 2-0 in a brilliant display, just over a month later and they are outplayed and beaten 3-1 at home by Monaco. 

This is just a flash into the inconsistency of Arsenal as a team, an inconsistency which means over the last ten years they haven’t been able to effectively and consistently challenge for the big trophies in a serious manner, always falling short (FA Cup 2014 aside). You can’t be inconsistent in a 38 game league campaign or in a competition with the quality of opposition as in the Champions League and expect to win it. 

6) Poor Discipline

It has taken until Francis Coquelin for Arsenal to find a defensive midfielder that will keep his discipline and sit in front of the back four – I’m not asking for Claude Makelele (OK maybe I am) but it would have been nice to have a good and mobile out-and-out defensive shield for multiple seasons prior. 

Arsenal defenders sometimes seem to forget that their main job is defending, there was a graphic of player heat maps I saw from a couple of seasons back and our full backs were predominantly further forward than our midfielders – a problem which has become frighteningly familiar meaning we’re susceptible to counters. We have Steve Bould as an assistant manager, a no nonsense defender in his day, surely he’s been giving support and advice? Had it been heeded? Another story.

Now onto the defensive midfield problem. Arsenal’s attacking full-backs (which has been a symbol of Arsenal since the dawn of Wenger) means that the defensive midfielders should do just that, defend the midfield. But all too often they have been caught too high up, their lack of pace and legs exploited and goals conceded, games lost. 

7) Poor tactics

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point; Wenger’s tactics can be a little questionable at times. I thought that we’d started a new chapter in Arsenal against Man City, Wenger got the tactics spot on in a big game, however a few weeks later against Tottenham in the North London derby he got them horribly wrong again.

Wenger has to take tips from big game managers and know when to stick with what we have and when to really go for it, also if we are 1-0 down in a big game, don’t go gung-ho in the 53rd minute and be caught on the break to go 2-0 down. But we’ll come onto that later… All I’m saying is a little bit more tactics and patience would go a long way over 90 minutes.

8) Poor performances in big games

This is a point which has plagued Arsenal for years. The big teams in the Premier League always seem to relish encounters against Arsenal. In recent years Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have all beaten Arsenal comprehensively. Arsenal used to be a fixture which was feared by the fellow big teams but it’s now a fixture that they seem to look forward to because it usually means easy points. 

I point at last season as the main culprit; 6-3 loss away to Man City, 6-0 away to Chelsea and 5-1 away to Liverpool which had carried on a poor run of form against big teams years prior. Let’s have a look at stats from a team who were considered Arsenal’s main rivals for much of their most successful period, Manchester United. Arsenal have only beaten United once in their last 12 meetings which was way back in 2011. Even recently when Man United visited the Emirates in November with their worst team in recent memory they performed well and ran out 2-1 winners.

Until Arsenal beat Manchester City they had gone a remarkable 14 games in a row against fellow Premier League members of the Champions League that season without a win. Hopefully the win against City was a turnaround in mentality otherwise Arsenal’s no longer surprising deficiency against top teams will become an even more worrying habit.

9) Susceptibility to counter attacks

Arsenal used to be the Kings of the counter attack, with Henry, Pires, Ljungberg or whoever it may be turning defence into attack in a matter of seconds resulting in a goal. Now it has become all too familiar of a story when Arsenal have a set piece or possession in the attacking third and the opposition break to score, making The Gunners look a little bit foolish.

Firstly, it always seems to be our slowest midfielder or defender (that isn’t Mertesacker) who is on the halfway line guarding. How many times have I seen Arteta, Flamini or Monreal looking horribly exposed and their lack of pace taken advantage of. Back to the Arsenal vs Manchester United game in November, where the point is proven. Wayne Rooney’s goal where Arsenal lose possession on the edge of the United box and a matter of seconds later are 2-0 down, a sight which has now become too familiar to fans for too many years.

10) Poor set pieces

Zonal marking, ZONAL MARKING!! Zonal marking is a format which is only best utilised when a team of physically robust headers of a football attack the zone which they have been assigned. A leader barks orders and the orders are heeded and carried out. When Arsenal concede from a set-piece, every single player in the box looks around in confusion as if to say “Whose man was that?” then fingers are pointed and blame passed.

Recently Harry Kane (who is currently on form one of the best strikers in the country) was left unmarked at the back post to slot in a relatively easy finish to level the North London derby – if you want to be winning the Derby then do not, I repeat DO NOT, leave their best striker unmarked from a set piece. All too often I have seen players not jump with a player or not clear a cross because they believe it to be someone else’s duty or not in their zone. Take responsibility! 

It must just be Arsenal marking from crosses in general because they have conceded 10 headed goals, 2nd most in the Premier League. 

The weirdest part is that Arsenal have scored the second most goals from set plays in the league (16) yet can never seem to defend a set piece!

11) Poor defending 

Pretty much everything I’ve said about Arsenal’s defending summed up in one point. When Gael Clichy left for Manchester City back in 2011, he came out and claimed to the press that Arsenal simply did not practice defending in training. As the years have gone by I’m slowly starting to think that he was right and it should have been some kind of premonition and warning to us Arsenal fans.

Steve Bould became Arsenal assistant manager in 2012 when Pat Rice retired. Bould, in his playing days, was seen as a no-nonsense defender and was a member of one of Arsenal’s most formidable back lines in their history. So how can a man whose history is so good, who has so much contact with the team in training, make little to no difference in regards to how they perform? The answer: Steve Bould is not utilised to his maximum potential as a defensive co-ordinator.

All Arsenal defenders seem to have a weakness whereas most teams will play defenders to their strengths Arsenal seem not to. Too many times I have seen Mertesacker, who has the turning circle of a cruise liner, up against the fastest member of the opposing teams attack – could we please leave the foot races up to Bellerin, Koscielny or Gibbs and not leave Mertesacker isolated?

12) Poor boardroom 

Stan Kroenke is the largest shareholder in Arsenal Football Club and I have not seen the man speak about the club once; forget that, I’ve never seen the man speak at all. So his nickname “Silent Stan” starts to seem very appropriate. 

A man who is sorely missed at Arsenal since his departure in 2007 is David Dein. Dein is former vice-chairman and his role saw him take part in football matters such as player contracts, transfer negotiations as well as the hiring of staff – which saw him appoint Mr Wenger who at the time of his arrival was relatively unknown. Dein’s extensive range of footballing contacts and influence made Wenger’s job a hell of a lot easier, not to mention the backing that Dein gave Wenger in the transfer market.

Arsenal miss someone like Dein, someone who is known to really get involved with the day-to-day running of the club because Ivan Gazidis (who overtook Dein’s roles) doesn’t seem to have quite the same impact.

13) Faith and backing of deadwood players

Arsene Wenger is a manager who is known for his (sometimes blind) backing of his own players (“I didn’t see it”). But his relentless faith in players who had rarely ever shown themselves to be good enough became tiresome. 

Everyone remembers Nicklas Bendtner. A player whose insufferable arrogance became the butt of ironic jokes everywhere, he became the scourge of Arsenal fans. To his credit, Bendtner did score some important goals for Arsenal, but his terrible attitude and maxed out potential soon meant it was too late. The man who claimed he was off to Barcelona or Real Madrid when his Arsenal contract was up is now playing for Wolfsburg. Bendtner’s story is one of many, one that started with great potential boom but ended with a comical ability fart. Denilson, Djourou and Senderos are all other names who stick out in my mind – at one stage made some great performances and could have made a name for themselves, but now are just whinces in an Arsenal fan’s memory.

As for Abou Diaby, I’m not sure why he still has a shirt number. 16 league appearances in four seasons is awful reading for anyone and unfortunately his injury problems mean he will soon be released but it is a couple of seasons too late.

14) Fatigue of players

In recent years, Arsenal’s thin squads have meant that come February time (a.k.a the business end of the season) all of their star players are either knackered or so burnt out they have picked up a two or three month injury lay-off. The first eleven has rarely been the problem, it has just been the sheer fact that there was never any strength in depth. It was sort of the same story this season. Due to Arsene’s reluctance to buy any more defenders, Arsenal were forced to play makeshift back fours week after week early on, which fortunately has now subsided despite yet another injury to Mathieu Debuchy but we now have the cover after the emergence of Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers and now, more centrally, Gabriel.

Last season, Mesut Ozil became an enigma in the Premier League. Signed for £42million and renowned as one of the best playmakers in the world, Ozil made a good start to his Arsenal career. But after a few months, not used to the physicality and relentlessness of the Premier League schedule, poor old Mesut burnt out. He was running the highest rate of any Arsenal player but when he got the ball he could barely ever do anything with it. Why? Mesut was fatigued and burnt out. He needed a break, he had never played without a winter break before. He then went to the World Cup with Germany and failed to set the league alight again upon his return. Since coming back from a three month injury layoff and putting on double his body weight in beef, Ozil has recorded three goals and three assists since his return from injury and looks to be picking up both form and confidence.

15) 11 years ago, we were Invincible

Remember those days? The glory days. We had the best striker in the world in Thierry Henry, a supporting cast including Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires and we were the best team that England had ever seen. Arsenal went 49 league games unbeaten between May 2003 – October 2004. An achievement higher than any other in English league football.

Now we celebrate finishing above Tottenham. 

16) Failing to build on star signings

If you had told me in July 2013 that within two years we would have had Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in our team then I would probably had asked you who else, with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning. But the fact is that if you look at true world-class talent, Arsenal don’t have anyone else.

I’ll admit that we do have good players in our squad, players who given the opportunity could be world class. But as an Arsenal fan I’ve grown impatient of would and could, I’m looking for world class now. So the marquee signings of Ozil and Sanchez are obviously most welcome, but we still need the major signings in key areas before we can mention anything on the Champions League or Premier League. 

17) Mismanagement and playing players out of position

Do you remember poor old Emmanuel Eboue? Here was a right-back who showed a lot of early promise in his career, also one of the most popular characters you will ever see in a football dressing room. But Wenger, for some reason only he would know, would go on to deploy Eboue in both left wing and centre midfield. Go figure. Andrey Arshavin lit up the world as a creative midfielder, given a free role to wreak havoc. His future? Shunted out on the wing and made to look out of place and extremely poor. 

The buck doesn’t stop there as it has recently happened to Podolski, Wilshere, Ozil, Cazorla and many more who have been pushed out of position and made to look half of the player they are. Arsene needs to stop trying to plug gaps and must put players where they are most effective consistently, otherwise more talent will go to waste.

18) Mockery of the captaincy

The sale of Vermaelen to Barcelona (Which I admit was good business due to his injury problems) was the latest in a line of captaincy sales which means the idea of a captain and the role itself has diminished. Prior to Vermaelen’s departure; Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Patrick Vieira and Robin Van Persie have all been sold while under captaincy, meaning Arsenal have sold five of their captains in the last nine years.  This doesn’t bode well for current club captain Mikel Arteta whose contract runs out in the summer.

Arsenal’s mockery of the role of captain can be summed up as such – club captain Vermaelen was an unused substitute in last years FA Cup final. Could you imagine Chelsea playing a cup final without a fit John Terry? Or Man City without Vincent Kompany? Absolutely not.

19) No leadership

My main problem here is Arsenal haven’t had a proper leader or general since Patrick Vieira. Someone who really has the ability to change a game and drag Arsenal through hard games with true grit and determination – the captains since Vieira have all been star players/the most senior player in the squad, but none with the same leadership qualities as the Frenchman.

In Arteta’s absence, Per Mertesacker has covered as his deputy but Mertesacker has nowhere near the qualities to even be a vice-captain. In December, when Arsenal drew 2-2 against Liverpool at Anfield, Arsenal were 2-1 up in the closing stages of the game. Martin Skrtel jumped up and beat a cowering Mertesacker who seemed to be afraid of the aerial challenge to equalise and claim a point. Mertesacker was rightly berated for his part in the goal as for someone who has made over 100 international appearances and played in three World Cups, winning one in the process, he looked very faint-hearted to go for a ball which could have been the difference between one point and three.

20) No desire or passion

In every big game I have seen (bar Man City), Arsenal always seem to lack desire and passion when it comes to the rougher side of the game. 50-50’s, second balls and loose possession always fall in favour of the opposition and the reason why is simple: Arsenal just don’t want it as much. It even happens in games against the smaller sides a majority of the time too.

It was all too apparent in the recent game against Monaco which summed up the lack of passion. Whenever a ball was given away, hands went on hips, heads looked to the sky and crowds groaned in anguish. There was no desire to win the ball back, no desire to undo the mistake and keep us on the front foot. In defence there was no desire to make tackles or blocks, it’s like we didn’t even want to take our best chance of getting to the quarter finals in five years.

21) Repeated mistakes

Imagine seeing points 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11, as well as others, once or twice. Then you don’t learn from them because of stubbornness, so you get punished by them TIME and TIME and TIME again. So much so that the fans start to lose patience in you, let alone start to question your entire reign and legacy. Come on Arsene, you’re much, much better than that.

22) Pre-season buzz

For Arsenal fan’s pre-season buzz is  the likes of which you will see at no other club, but it quickly turns to mid-season despair and this season is no different. Arsenal mostly signed the players they needed (apart from defensively), there was a marquee signing in Sanchez, striker in Danny Welbeck, Debuchy and Ospina to replace the outgoing Sagna and Fabianski and a bonus of Chambers. But early season form quickly meant that Arsenal slipped down the table and were out of the Capital One Cup, now they look to be going out of the Champions League too and the FA Cup looks bleak with a tough trip to Old Trafford. 

Arsenal fans would have wanted to build on the FA Cup of last year (which should have been so much more after 120+ consecutive days at the top of the table last season) but at the moment, it is looking very unlikely and they will no doubt get the same pre-season buzz this summer.

23) Some other Arsenal fans

Mainly here I’m talking about the people who booed Wenger at the Stoke-on-Trent train station, I’m also talking about the idiots who appear on Arsenal Fan TV who have made other clubs fans enjoy our dismal displays even more, so much so that people who aren’t even Arsenal fans have subscribed to Arsenal Fan TV. 

Arsenal’s stadium is a 60,000 seater stadium, the second largest club stadium in the country, yet our stadium has garnered the reputation of being a library. This needs to change, opposition players should be nervous to come to the Emirates but they’re not because opposition fans usually cheer louder.

Arsenal fans also seem to be serial offenders in leaving matches early, even in situations where the game is incredibly tight – you’ve paid to watch 90 minutes, so watch them.