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.

Top five wingers in the world

Cristiano Ronaldo – Real Madrid

Since the Portuguese winger moved to the Spanish capital he has gone from World Class status to legendary. His goals to games ratio since his then record-breaking £80million move is greater than 1 in 1 standing at 290 goals in 281 games.

Ronaldo is the current Ballon d’Or holder after a historical 2013/2014 season with Real Madrid as he helped fire them to their much anticipated La Decima Champions League title. His scoring record in the Champions League campaign was record-breaking 17 goals in 11 games, making him the competitions top scorer for the second consecutive season, helping take his total number of goals in the season to 67 goals in all competitions – which was the fourth consecutive season he had scored over 50 goals in all competitions.

Ronaldo has been viewed by many players, coaches, pundits and legends as the complete attacker with his pace, strength, fitness, goal scoring ability, his ability to use either foot as well as his aerial prowess. He is also widely regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation and hailed as one of the best players ever.

He has made 604 career club appearances, scoring 413 goals, having played for Sporting CP, Manchester United and Real Madrid. He has also made 118 appearances for the Portuguese National Team, scoring 52 goals and he has been Portugal captain since 2008.

He has won three English Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two English League Cups, one FA Community Shield, two UEFA Champions League titles, two FIFA Club World Cups, one La Liga, two Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, one UEFA Super Cup and he is also the current holder of the Ballon d’Or.

Neymar – Barcelona

Neymar has been a superstar since the age of 18 when he rose to the attention of Brazil (and the world) by shining consistently for Santos. The skilful winger gained notoriety for his pace, skill and playmaking skills and was linked with Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid before eventually joining Barcelona in 2013.

Since breaking through as Brazil’s next big thing, a lot of pressure was put on the electric wingers shoulder’s but he has consistently shown he is up to the standard for both club and country. He is currently Brazil’s fifth highest goalscorer in their history despite only being 23.

Neymar is one of the first names on the Barcelona team sheet and has forged an excellent understanding with Lionel Messi and new arrival Luis Suarez, making one of the most fearsome attacking trios in world football.

Neymar has made 295 career club appearances, scoring 175 goals. He has played for Santos and Barcelona. He has also made 60 appearances for the Brazilian National Team, scoring 42 goals and being named vice-captain in 2013.

He has won three Campeonato Paulista titles, one Copa do Brasil, one Copa Libertadores, one Recopa Sudamericana, one Supercopa de Espana, three Supercopa de las Americas and one Confederations Cup.

Gareth Bale – Real Madrid

There was a fascinating stat for Bale when he was at Tottenham – he didn’t register a single win in his first 20 games for the club – fast forward to his final couple of seasons at Spurs and he was the reason for a lot of their wins and now he is rivalling Cristiano Ronaldo to be the main man at Real Madrid.

Now I won’t lie, when he first started to shine at Tottenham, I claimed he was over-rated. But he has proven time and time again that I was wrong – whether it be beating full backs for fun, drilling free-kicks in the top corner or lashing a shot into the back of the net. After a PFA Player & Young Player of the Year award, as well as the FWA Player of the Year award and an £86million move to Real Madrid in 2013, I think it’s safe to say he proved me wrong.

Bale’s outstanding attributes have always been his incredible pace, stamina and set piece ability, but when you add into that his efficiency in the final third with his passing and finishing which has consistently improved, you have one of the most lethal wingers in world football – not bad for someone who started out as a full-back.

The Welshman has made 326 career club appearances, scoring 96 goals. He has played for Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid. He has also made 45 appearances for Wales, scoring 14 goals.

Bale has won one UEFA Champions League, one Copa del Rey, one FIFA Club World Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.

Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal

Barcelona’s acquisition of Suarez and the heavy speculation around the time meant that they could afford to let Sanchez go for the right price – and Arsenal certainly came up with the right price at £35million and I’m glad they did, as I’m sure 100% of Arsenal fans are.

Sanchez’s final season in Barcelona was a pointer of things to come as he scored 21 goals in 54 games in all competitions, the best season tally in his career so far.

Sanchez’s style of play which mixes flair, technical skill and a determination which has become synonymous with South American players has become an instant hit at the Emirates, endearing him to team-mates, coaches and fans alike – not to mention his stat of 18 goals in 32 games helping him in his first season so far.

The Chilean forward has made 414 career club appearances so far, scoring 111 goals. He has played for Cobreloa, Colo-Colo, River Plate, Udinese, Barcelona and Arsenal. He has also made 77 appearances for the Chilean national team, scoring 26 goals.

He has won two Chilean league titles, one Argentinian league title, one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey, two Supercopa de Espana titles, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup and one FA community Shield.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

There was a huge transfer saga before the Belgian finally decided to move to Chelsea – and I mean one of the biggest transfer sagas I remember. But Hazard eventually revealed he would be moving to Chelsea and immediately made people question his ability –  by saying:” I hope I don’t become a big-money flop.” But Hazard has proved to be anything but a flop since his £32million move to London. 

Hazard has gone on to be one of the best players in the Premier League consistently since his move from Lille and last season his contribution at Chelsea was recognised as he was named  2013/2014 PFA Young Player of the Year and Chelsea’s Player of the Year.

Hazard’s style of play means he can play as an attacking midfielder or winger. He possesses excellent pace and acceleration which is coupled with his ability to pass or shoot with both feet making him one of the most unpredictable players in the league, meaning he can create goals and score them in abundance.

He has made 341 career club appearances, scoring 94 goals. He has played for Lille and Chelsea. He has also made 53 appearances for Belgium, scoring 6 goals.

He has won one Ligue 1 title, one Coupe de France and one UEFA Europa League.

Top five centre midfielders in the world.

Yaya Toure – Manchester City

The Ivorian powerhouse has been one of Manchester City’s most influential players since his arrival from Barcelona in 2010. His main attributes are his power and pace but that’s not all there is to his game with his excellent passing, ball control and shooting ability.

He never shirks from the defensive duties he has but his undoubted qualities in the attacking third have made him more of a box-to-box midfielder than the defensive midfield role he had in his Barcelona days.

His importance to Manchester City has never been made more apparent than when he hasn’t been in the team, such as their recent downturn in form since his trip to the African Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.

To date he has made 494 career club appearances, scoring 83 goals having played for Beveren, Metalurh Donetsk, Olympiacos, Monaco, Barcelona and Manchester City. He has also made 95 appearances for the Ivory Coast national team, who he currently captains and has been since last year, scoring 19 goals.

He has won one Ivory Coast Premier Division, one Greek league title and one Greek cup, two La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, one Supercopa de Espana, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, two English Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one Football League Cup, one FA Community Shield, one African Cup of Nations and he has also been named African Footballer of the Year four times.

Toni Kroos – Real Madrid

In Toni Kroos’ career so far he has become one of the most successful and well recognised centre midfielders in the world, not to mention one of the best.

His efficiency in the dominant Bayern Munich midfield of recent years, as well as his ever-presence in the all conquering German national team at the World Cup earned him a £25million move to European champions Real Madrid.

His playmaking skills in a deeper role have made Kroos one of the best passing playmakers in the world and before he went to Real Madrid he was one of the most sought after too.

He has made 306 club career appearances so far in his career, scoring 40 goals and playing for Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. He has also made 57 appearances for the German national team, scoring 9 goals.

In his career so far he has won one Champions League, two UEFA Super Cups, two FIFA Club World Cups, three Bundesliga titled, three DFB-Pokal, one DFB-LigaPokal, one DFL-Supercup and one World Cup.

Luka Modric – Real Madrid

I love footballers who make playing football look easy. Luka Modric certainly falls into the category of players who do that. After an initial tough start to life in Madrid after his move from Tottenham, he has flourished into one of the best box-to-box playmakers in world football, enhancing the reputation he had built at Tottenham.

His recent ability to sit deep and break up play since his move to Madrid is matched by his passing ability and skills as a playmaker making the Croatian one of the most complete midfielders in the world.

He was pivotal in the clubs La Decima Champions League campaign – playing all but two games – and in the La Liga title race where he was the team’s most efficient passer with 90%, also winning the LFP award for best midfielder in La Liga. He started off the 2014/15 season in fine form but unfortunately his progress was halted when he picked up an injury which kept him out for three months.

He has made 448 career club appearances, scoring 69 goals. He has played for Zrinjski Mostar, Inter Zapresic, Dinamo Zagreb, Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid. He has also made 83 appearances for the Croatian National Team, scoring 10 goals.

He has won three Croatian league titles, two Croatian cups and one Croatian Supercup, one Champions League, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, one Copa del Rey and one Supercopa de Espana.

Nemanja Matic – Chelsea

Despite initially being sold to Benfica as part of the deal which saw David Luiz make his way to London, Matic was brought back to Chelsea after three years in Portugal due to his ability as a defensive shield which Chelsea so desperately needed.

Matic has grown into one of the best out-and-out defensive midfielders in the world, shielding Chelsea’s back four and acting as the perfect foil for the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa – his ball playing skills aren’t too shabby either having initially been a playmaker before his conversion to defensive midfield under Jorge Jesus at Benfica.

Matic has proved vital thus far in Chelsea’s Premier League campaign, as well as their Champions League run. He was also set to feature in Chelsea’s upcoming Capital One Cup final against Tottenham but after picking up a red card after reacting to a bad challenge against Burnley he will be suspended.

The big Serbian has played in 271 career club appearances so far in his career, scoring 18 goals – having played for Jedinstvo Ub, MFK Kosice, Chelsea, Vitesse and Benfica. He has made 18 appearances for the Serbian national team, scoring no goals.

He has won one Slovak cup, one FA Cup, one Premeira Liga, one Taca de Portugal and one Taca de Liga. He is also the reigning Serbian Player of the Year.

Cesc Fabregas – Chelsea

Being an Arsenal fan it still pains me to see Fabregas in a Chelsea shirt but you can’t doubt the class of the Spanish playmaker.

The arrival of Fabregas for £25million signalled a huge intention for the 2014/2015 season from Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho as he looked to plug any gap in his team and cater to any need. Arsenal fans will still feel aggrieved by the fact they could have seen their former club captain return to the Emirates Stadium but Fabregas’ impact in a Chelsea shirt has been excellent.

Providing fluid passing and link-up play with his midfield counterparts, as well as forging a deadly partnership with Diego Costa is seeing him rack up assists game by game. He has become the first player to get 15 Premier League assists in two separate seasons, he is also closing in on former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in one Premier League season.

Fabregas has made 486 career club appearances, scoring 103 goals. He has made appearances for Asenal, Barcelona and Chelsea. He has also made 94 appearances for Spain’s National Team, scoring 13 goals.

He has won one FA Cup, one Community shield, one La Liga, one Copa del Rey, two Supercopa de Espana, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup, one FIFA World Cup and two UEFA European Championships.

It’s been a while…

Ok.. So after recently becoming unemployed I stumbled across this blog which I used to run quite regularly. Now I have the time and opportunity to start posting again – which is exactly what I’m going to do. Now I understand that the top five posts I was doing, the form and players will have changed so please bare that in mind!

However, anything from now on will obviously be my current views on the players in question.

I hope you enjoy the forthcoming posts.. Like I’m enjoying my six week holiday to see my girlfriend.

Watch this space!

Top five right backs in the world

Philipp Lahm – Bayern Munich

Despite being listed as a right-back and being right footed, Lahm is equally adept at playing either right or left back, cutting in to pass or shoot.

He is well known for his pace, dribbling, stamina and his tackling abilities as well as his excellent reading of the game, his qualities have seen him widely regarded as the best full back in the world due to his consistently reliable displays for both club and country which saw him made captain for both.

Lahm’s club career has seen him rack up 484 appearances to date, scoring 16 goals as well as winning five Bundesliga titles, five DFB-pokal titles, two DFL-Supercups, one DFL-Ligapokal and a Champions League title. He was made Bayern Munich club captain in 2011 after the departure of Mark Van Bommel.

He has also captained the Germany national team since 2010 and he has made 98 appearances, scoring five goals.

 

Lukasz Piszczek – Borussia Dortmund

Yet another underrated defender in the Dortmund backline but has recently come to prominence with his performances for both Dortmund and the Polish national team.

His defensive attributes are never put in question but his real talents lie in attacking where his buccaneering runs and excellent delivery have often led to goals. Piszczek fits the mould of the modern day full back with his energy, pace and technique on the ball.

He has made 309 career club appearances, scoring 33 goals; as well as winning a Polish league title, two Bundesliga titles and one DFB-Pokal. He has made 34 appearances for the Polish national team, as well as notching two goals.

 

Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid

This will probably cause controversy because he’s seen as a centre back nowadays but I will always see Sergio Ramos as a right back, despite his versatility at being able to play anywhere across the back four as well.

Ramos could be seen as the complete defender with his versatility, pace, strength, aerial ability as well as his reading of the game and signature last-ditch tackles and blocks.

To date he has made 401 club career appearances, scoring 44 goals and winning three La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and two Supercopa de Espana titles.

Since his move from Sevilla to Real Madrid he has been an ever-present not just in the Real Madrid team but also the Spanish national team, earning his first cap aged 18, notching up 108 to date, scoring nine goals. He has been a huge part of the historic Spain team which has won a World Cup and two European Championships.

 

Branislav Ivanovic – Chelsea

Ivanovic is another one on this list which is equally adept at playing in another position, providing suitable cover at centre back as well.

The big Serbian defender is known for his brute strength, pace and unbeatable aerial prowess. Whenever playing at right back he could also gallop forward and put in an excellent delivery.

Ivanovic’s fine 2012-13 season was topped off when he scored the winning goal in Chelsea’s Europa League final against Benfica in which they won 2 – 1, Ivanovic was also named man of the match in this encounter following his heroics.

He has made 347 career club appearances to date, scoring 35 goals. He has won one Russian Cup, one Premiership title, three FA Cup titles, one FA Community Shield, one Champions League and one UEFA Europa League. He has also made 61 appearances for the Serbian national thus far, notching seven goals.

 

Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City

Zabaleta has earned himself a cult hero status amongst City fans because of his commitment to the club, hard-working attitude and tenacity as well as his consistency and versatility.

Zabaleta was Man City’s Mr. Reliable this season. He was even named stand-in captain when club captain Vincent Kompany was sidelined between January and March. After a superb season he was named Manchester City’s Player of the Year as well as being in the PFA Team of the Year at right back.

He has made 340 career club appearances to date, scoring 17 goals; as well as winning an Argentinian Cup, a Copa del Rey, one Premiership title, one FA Cup, one Community Shield.

The full back has also made 31 appearances for the Argentina national team, winning an Olympic Gold Medal along the way.

 

Top five players of the 2013 Confederations Cup

The Confederations Cup was a nice little break from the agony of no football which we have had to put up with since May. Here are my top five players from the tournament and why they impressed me.

Neymar – Brazil

This is probably the most blatant name on the list. Neymar entered the Confederations Cup still with a lot of doubters due to only really making a major name for himself in his homeland of Brazil. But after a recent big money move to Barcelona people were intrigued to see the lightweight Brazilian maestro.

He didn’t disappoint; during the opening game he hammered in a terrific half volley from outside the area in just the third minute. The rest of his performances followed suit as he scored four goals in six games as well as winning the golden ball for best player of the tournament.

His performances helped guide Brazil to victory, putting a man of the match performance in for the final. He played a big part in two goals and also grabbed one of his own, one of his trademark skilful bursts also saw the sending off of Spain centre back Gerard Pique, further compounding Spain’s misery.

Emanuele Giaccherini – Italy

One of the surprise packages of the Confederations Cup was Italy’s Giaccherini. He wasn’t really in favour at club team Juventus but it is well documentede that Italy manager Cesare Prandelli doesn’t take club form into account.

Giaccherini is a shining example of Prandelli’s policy as his performances were hard-working but most importantly, a key part to Italy’s play. Deployed in a role just behind the striker meant Giaccherini could shift across in his attacking midfield role offering support for strikers or popping up on either wing.

He scored one goal over the tournament but that doesn’t reflect the hard working nature of Giaccherini’s overall play for the Italian national team – one of the major reasons Prandelli uses him so readily.

Jordi Alba – Spain

Despite being on the losing side in the final, Jordi Alba can walk out of this competition with his head held high after another set of dazzling displays which only helped further his reputation as one of the finest left backs in world football.

Alba’s constant running and blistering pace up the left hand side were a key component of Spain’s attacking play. Defensively he’s no slouch either as he played a part in two of Spain’s three clean sheets.

Alba finished the tournament with two goals of his own after a set of performances in which he flourished with his pace, stamina and defensive attributes which were more than assured.

Andres Iniesta – Spain

If there was a player anyone would want for the big occasion in centre midfield it would be Iniesta. Like Alba, he was on the losing side in the final but he was one of few players who fought until the final whistle and that added to the qualities which the playmaker no doubt possesses.

Iniesta registered no goals at the tournament but his importance to Spain’s play going forward was paramount as he consistently dictated the tempo of matches he played in. He completed 337 passes of the 390 he attempted in the entire competition.

The creative midfielder was voted man of the match during Spain’s first game of the tournament in a 2 – 1 win over Uruguay which the Spanish dominated.

David Luiz – Brazil

His defensive attributes are usually questioned at Chelsea but while playing in his home country for his national team, David Luiz seemed to turn into a defensive genius.

His time at Chelsea has been inconsistent, he can go on forays forward from the back leaving gaps, or make mistakes which get exploited but Luiz became a defensive wall with the heart of a lion for La Selecao, his tournament being encompassed in one moment by his goal-line clearance in the final against Spain.

His popularity for both club and country though will never seem to waiver as he is a fans favourite among both Chelsea and Brazil fans, his popularity even more so following his performances in this competition.

How did the signings fare? (Part two)

Part two of how did the signings fare including Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle United.

Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov – Excellent first season in London from the Bulgarian striker who turned out to be a bargain at just £4million. The gangly striker managed to notch up 15 goals in 33 games, all of those coming in the Premiership, making him Fulham’s top scorer for the 2012-13 season.

Mladen Petric – Started off as an excellent signing with a two goals and an assist in his first game in a 5 – 0 thrashing of Norwich but his form dipped immensely as he only mustered five goals in 20 appearances all season. Released by Fulham at the end of the season.

Hugo Rodallega – Another bad season in front of goal for the Colombian who could only manage three goals in 28 games. If Fulham can sign someone to help Berbatov I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rodallega leave too.

Kieran Richardson – Only made 17 appearances over the whole season, grabbing two goals. Unfortunately had his season scuppered by injuries.

Ashkan Dejagah – Made 24 appearances in all competitions grabbing no goals but troubled a few defences along the way. Had his season cut short by injury at the beginning of April.

Giorgos Karagounis – Added steel and experience to the Fulham midfield. Made 28 appearances, scoring two goals. Plenty of his trademark dogged, hard-working displays. Released at the end of his one-year contract.

Sascha Riether – Signed on a one-year loan deal initially which was made permanent after a successful first season in English football. Made 38 appearances in all competitions, even grabbing a goal from right back. Voted Fulham Player’s Player of the Year ahead of Berbatov and Karagounis.

Emmanuel Frimpong – Signed on loan from London rivals Arsenal and made six appearances. Gave Fulham an extra and more youthful option in defensive midfield.

Urby Emanuelson – Signed on loan from AC Milan. Made 13 appearances and scored one goal. The quality which must have been needed to make 51 appearances in two years previous for AC Milan didn’t really tell for the Dutchman, making many appearances from the bench.

Stanislav Manolev – Signed on loan and only made five appearances at right back/right midfield.

Eyong Enoh – Signed by former manager Martin Jol on loan from Ajax, made nine appearances.

Liverpool

Fabio Borini – Signed for £10million from Roma and unfortunately missed out on three months of the season with a broken foot which he suffered in October. Only made 20 appearances, scoring just two goals and hasn’t really won over the Anfield faithful.

Joe Allen – Signed for £15million from Swansea, following manager Brendan Rodgers. Made 37 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions, grabbing two goals. Not seen as the midfielder that Liverpool fans really craved to help Steven Gerrard. Season cut short in March after he required surgery on a shoulder injury.

Oussama Assaidi – Was hailed as an exciting acquisition by Brendan Rodgers but only made four appearances, failing to break into the Liverpool first team.

Dan Sturridge – Signed to give Luis Suarez a helping hand in the frontline and delivered superbly with 11 goals in 16 games after his £12million move from Chelsea in January.

Coutinho – An excellent signing by Rodgers at just £8.5million from Inter Milan. Already struck up a wonderful partnership with star man Suarez. Scored three and assisted seven in 13 games and is an exciting prospect for Liverpool fans.

Nuri Sahin – Signed on loan from Real Madrid with heavy expectation. Scored three and assisted three in 12 games but left Merseyside after being unhappy at Liverpool.

Manchester City

Jack Rodwell – Signed for £12million from Everton, had a disappointing, injury-laden first season with City after he was stricken with injuries from October to February. Only made 15 appearances, scoring two goals – both goals actually coming in his best performance in a City shirt, a 3 – 2 defeat to Norwich on the final day.

Richard Wright – Made no appearances, so, just… why?

Scott Sinclair – For me, made a mistake in leaving former club Swansea. Only made 14 appearances in all competitions, scoring no goals. Should look to leave Manchester City if he wants to further his career at his still relatively young age.

Maicon – Limited to 11 appearances in all competitions owing to the fine form of Pablo Zabaleta, another questionable signing for me by City.

Matija Nastasic – Signed in a player-plus-money deal involving Stefan Savic who went the other way and quickly performed better than the hopeless Montenegrin. Pushed Joleon Lescott out of the team and became a fan favourite. Made 25 appearances in all competitions.

Javi Garcia – Alongside Nastasic, pick of a relatively poor bunch for me. Signed for £17million and added more steel and solidity into Man City’s midfield. Made 25 appearances in all competitions, scoring two goals.

Manchester United

Robin Van Persie – Made former club Arsenal see what they were missing out on as he continued his fine form. Scored 30 goals in 48 games and fired Man United to a 20th league title. Also won the Man United Matt Busby Player of the Year award.

Shinji Kagawa – An excellent signing from Man United who bought a really exciting and creative player. Made 26 appearances, scoring six goals. Unfortunately missed out on two months of the season with a knee injury.

Nick Powell – One for the future for United. Made six appearances and scored one goal; goal came on his debut though when he came on as a substitute, netting just 11 minutes later.

Alexander Buttner – Exciting left back prospect which is unfortunate given Man United’s interest and bid in Leighton Baines. Made 13 appearances, scoring two goals. Should be loaned out if United do sign Baines, considering Fabio Da Silva is also set to return after QPR his loan spell at QPR.

Angelo Henriquez – Signed and immediately loaned out to Wigan.

Wilfried Zaha – Signed in January and loaned back to Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season, helping them to gain promotion to the Premiership.

Newcastle United

Romain Amalfitano – Only made two appearances in European competition.

Gael Bigirimana – Young, tough-tackling centre midfielder. Made 25 appearances in all competitions, scoring one goal and generally impressed with his work-rate.

Curtis Good – Bought for a reported £500,000 from Melbourne Heart and loaned out to Bradford for whom he made three appearances for.

Vurnon Anita – Made 37 appearances in his first season, scoring one goal. Good signing as a squad player but doesn’t really possess the class to help lift Newcastle back to their previous heights.

Mathieu Debuchy – Signed after much speculation on the Frenchman’s future. Made 14 appearances and the French international impressed in his first half season in English football. Defensively sound and a handy outlet going forward.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa – Made 20 appearances for Newcastle after signing from Montpellier in January. Showed excellent versatility as he was able to play anywhere across the backline well.

Yoan Gouffran – Signed from Bordeaux and added some excitement to the Newcastle frontline with his pace and trickery. Made 15 appearances, scoring three goals after his January arrival.

Massadio Haidara – Made four appearances after signing from Nancy. He was the player who was stretchered off after a high tackle from Wigan’s Callum McManaman. Filled in well for the injured Ryan Taylor and Davide Santon when required.

Moussa Sissoko – Good January signing from Toulouse. Scored three and set up five in 18 appearances. Playing style very similar to that of Yaya Toure with thunderous runs and good range of passing.