Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: Nr14 – The Hero of Copenhagen

Arsenal’s Century Club – Alan Smith

alan smith 1 (1)

 Alan Martin Smith: born 21 November 1962 in Hollywood, Worcestershire.

A striker, Smith started his career at non-league Alvechurch in north Worcestershire. He then signed professional forms with Leicester City in June 1982. In his first season, he scored 13 goals in a partnership with Gary Lineker, as the Foxes won promotion to the First Division. He spent five seasons at Leicester, scoring 84 goals in 217 appearances. He was transferred to Arsenal in March 1987, but then loaned back to Leicester for the rest of the season.

His first league goal for the club came on 29 August 1987, when he netted a hat-trick in a 6–0 game versus Portsmouth at Highbury. Smith scored the first goal in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at Anfield in May 1989 which saw them lift that season’s league championship. With Arsenal he then won another league title in 1991 as well as a League and FA Cup Double two years later. He also struck the sole goal in Arsenal’s 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final victory against Parma. Smith was Arsenal’s top scorer for four consecutive seasons, and the First Division top scorer of the 1988–89 season with 23 goals. He also went on to win another Golden Boot in 1991.

He received just one yellow card throughout his entire career.

Whilst at and away from Highbury, Smith scored a sum of 115 goals for Arsenal. All in all Smith has been ranked at 27th within the club’s listing of the 50 greatest Gunners of all time.

Honours

Arsenal

First Division: 1988–89, 1990–91

FA Cup: 1992–93

League Cup: 1992–93

UEFA Cup Winners Cup: 1993–94

First Division Golden Boot: 1988–89, 1990–91

alan smith 3 (1)

Alan waited until he was 55 before publishing Heads Up, an honest reflection on his life and career in football and, subsequently, journalism.

Intriguingly for Arsenal fans, this approach leads to a revelation about Smith’s “uncomfortable” relationship with star striker Ian Wright, whose arrival at Highbury coincided with a decline in his fellow-centre-forward’s form.

“My relationship with Ian Wright that was something that I’ve never really spoken to Ian about, but to get it down the page it was quite cathartic,” he says.

“I certainly wasn’t enjoying the football at the time. Wrighty came in, and he did more than anybody thought he would do, he became the club’s top goal scorer and he’s rightfully a legend. In life sometimes things don’t happen like you’d thought they would. I thought we’d make a great partnership, and we didn’t really.

“I have had a chat with Ian [about the book] and he appreciated it. He didn’t say too much. He was very good about it.”

Smith’s book includes reflections on Arsenal’s 1990-91 title win, in which he finished the division’s top scorer with 22 goals. Despite losing only one game fewer, that Gunners team has enjoyed nothing like the reverence afforded Arsene Wenger’s unbeaten class of 2003-04.

He scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against Coventry City at Highbury on July 11th 1992.

Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
14 Alan Smith 1987-95 347 251 115 0.33
15 Frank Stapleton 1972-81 300 276 108 0.36
16 Denis Bergkamp 1995-06 423 296 120 0.28
17 John Radford 1962-76 481 306 149 0.31
18 Joe Hulme 1926-38 374 307 125 0.33
19 Theo Walcott 2005-18 397 370 108 0.27
** Games played to reach 100 goals.

alan smith 2 (1)

GunnerN5

Posted in Uncategorized | 45 Comments

Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: Nr15 – First man to score for two different clubs in FA Cup Finals

Arsenal’s Century Club – Frank Stapleton

Frank Stapleton (1)

Francis Anthony “Frank” Stapleton was born 10 July 1956 in Dublin.

Frank was a tough tackling forward who was an especially good header of the ball. He started his career with Arsenal, joining them in 1972 as an apprentice, after being turned down by Manchester United. He made his first-team debut in 1975 against Stoke City, and went on to form a potent striking partnership with Malcolm Macdonald; the two scored 46 goals between them in 1976–77. He was Arsenal’s top scorer for the three following seasons, and helped the Gunners reach a trio of FA Cup finals; Stapleton scored one of the goals in Arsenal’s 1979 FA Cup Final 3–2 win over Manchester United, and scored 108 goals in 300 appearances in total for the Gunners.

Frank Stapleton with Cup (1)

Stapleton went on to move to Manchester United in 1981 for £900,000 (a fee set by tribunal after the two clubs could not agree). He helped United win the 1983 and 1985 FA Cups. It was in the first of those finals, when he scored against Brighton, in which Stapleton made history by becoming the first man to score for two different clubs in FA Cup Finals. He left United in 1987, after scoring 78 goals for the club in 365 matches.

frank stapleton ajax

He went on to play for Ajax Amsterdam, before returning to England with Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Aldershot, Huddersfield Town (as player-coach) and Bradford City, where he spent three seasons after a brief period at Le Havre in France. After being sacked as Bradford’s player-manager in 1994, he had a brief spell at Brighton & Hove Albion in the 1994–95 season, playing two games before finally announcing his retirement as a player.

In 1996 Frank moved to the United States to manage Major League Soccer side New England Revolution.

His team was one of only two which did not reach the play offs in Major League Soccer’s inaugural season; he endured a season long battle with the club’s star player and a running feud with some of its more vocal supporters. In the end, however, it was what he perceived as a “vicious” media campaign and the effect it was having on his family that led Frank Stapleton to tender his resignation as coach of the New England Revolution  in the last week of the season.

Styles of the day (1)

“I just don’t need any more pressure put on my family,” said Stapleton. “I’m trained to deal with this stuff, but just because you’re married to a footballer doesn’t mean she (wife Chris) can cope with it. Your kids and your family are not immune. I tried to keep them away from it as much as possible, but.” In a 17 year professional career at Arsenal, Manchester United, and Ajax, he thought he had endured the best the English tabloid press could dish out, but, he said on a personal level, this was even worse. “I don’t expect not to be criticised, but this became an ongoing situation. It was as if there was a rivalry between the Boston papers to see who could be the most vicious.”

His 100 goal was scored on December 6th, 1980 against Wolverhampton at Highbury. 

Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
15 Frank Stapleton 1972-81 300 276 108 0.36
16 Denis Bergkamp 1995-06 423 296 120 0.28
17 John Radford 1962-76 481 306 149 0.31
18 Joe Hulme 1926-38 374 307 125 0.33
19 Theo Walcott 2005-18 397 370 108 0.27
** Games played to reach 100 goals.

GunnerN5

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Arsenal Best Attackers Ever: Nr16 – He Let The Ball Do the Flying

Arsenal’s Century Club – Dennis Bergkamp

denis bergkamp 2 (1)

Dennis Nicolaas Maria Bergkamp – Born: May 10, 1969 Amsterdam, Netherlands was the fourth of four sons. He was brought up in a working-class suburb; his father who was an electrician played amateur footballer in the lower leagues. He was named in honour of Scottish striker Denis Law but in order to comply with Dutch given name customs, an extra “n” was inserted into his first name, by his father, after it was not accepted by the registrar.

He was spotted by Ajax and was brought up through their famous youth system, joining the club at age 11 and making his professional debut on 14 December 1986. He scored his first senior goal for the club against HFC Haarlem on 22 February 1987 in a match Ajax won 6–0. He went on to make 23 appearances in the 1986–87 season, including a European debut against Malmö FF in the 1986–87 European Cup Winners’ Cup, Ajax won the competition, beating Lokomotive Leipzig 1–0.

In later seasons he established himself as a first-team player for Ajax. This culminated in a period of success for the club that won the Eredivisie title in the 1989–90 season for the first time in five years. Dennis scored 29 goals in 36 games the following season and became the joint top goal scorer in the league. Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup Final, beating Torino through the away goals ruling. He was the top scorer in the Eredivisie from 1991 to 1993, and was voted Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1992 and 1993. In total, he scored 122 goals in 239 games for his hometown club.

Dennis attracted the attention of several European clubs as a result of his performances for Ajax. He was insistent on playing in Italy. as he considered Serie A “the biggest league at the time” and preferred a move to either Juventus or Internazionale; on 16 February 1993, he agreed a £7.1 million move to Internazionale and made his debut against Reggiana on 29 August 1993.

In his first two seasons at Internazionale, the club changed managers twice and Dennis had a difficult time, troubled with stress injuries and fatigue from the 1994 World Cup, he only scored five goals in 26 appearances. Off the field, his relationship with the Italian press and fans became uncomfortable. His shy persona and his propensity to go home after matches were interpreted as apathy. Because of his poor performance on the pitch, one Italian publication renamed their award given to the worst performance of the week, L’asino della settimana (Donkey of the Week) to Bergkamp della settimana.

Dennis left Internazionale and signed with Arsenal in June 1995 for a transfer fee estimated at £7.5 million. He became manager Bruce Rioch’s first signing at Arsenal and broke the club’s transfer fee record of £2.5 million. On the opening day of the 1995–96 league season, he made his full debut against Middlesbrough. He struggled to adapt to the English game and failed to score in the club’s next six league matches, prompting ridicule by the national press, he ended his first season with 33 appearances and a goal tally of 11.

cropped-xxl-1.jpg

The appointment of Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager in September 1996 marked a turning point in his career. Wenger, who had moderate success coaching in France and Japan, recognised his talent and wanted to use him as a fulcrum of the team’s forward play. Both were advocates of a continental style of attacking football, and Dennis was happy with Arsene’s decision to impose a strict fitness and health regime. Despite making fewer appearances in the 1996–97 season, he was more influential in the first team, creating 13 assists.

The following season he was instrumental in helping Arsenal complete a domestic league and cup double. He became the club’s top scorer with 22 goals and recorded a strike rate of 0.57. In 1997/8 he was the recipient of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award, becoming only the second foreign player to be recognised by his fellow professionals as the outstanding performer in English football.

After 3 seasons of finishing second more success finally came in the 2001–02 season. Arsenal regained the league, beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in the penultimate game of the season to complete the club’s second double under Wenger; Arsenal defeated Chelsea 2–0 to win the FA Cup four days prior. Dennis played in 33 league matches, setting up 15 goals. After a 3 game red card suspension he made his return against Newcastle United on 3 March 2002. Early in the match, Arsenal midfielder Robert Pirès played a low pass from the left flank to Dennis in the edge of the opponent area with his back to goal. Under pressure from his marker Nikos Dabizas, he controlled the ball with one flick and went around the other side before placing the ball precisely into the bottom right-hand corner to score. Arsene described the goal as “unbelievable”, adding “It was not only a magnificent goal but a very important one – I enjoyed it a lot”

Dennis reached a personal landmark during the 2002–03 season, scoring his 100th goal for Arsenal against Oxford United in a FA Cup third-round tie. On 20 July 2003, he signed a one-year extension at the club. The 2003–04 season ended on a high point as Arsenal reclaimed the league title, becoming the first English team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten Champions League over two legs. He committed himself to Arsenal at the end of the season, signing a further extension to his contract.

The team finished fourth in the league in his final season at Arsenal. After much campaigning from Arsenal supporters, the club designated one of its Highbury match day themes, organised to commemorate the stadium’s final season as home of Arsenal, to Dennis Bergkamp. “Bergkamp Day” took place on 15 April 2006 It celebrated his contribution to Arsenal; fans were given commemorative orange ‘DB10’ T-shirts – the colour of his national team, his initials and his squad number. Dennis came on as a second-half substitute and set up the winning Pirès goal moments after Nigel Quashie had levelled the score. Fittingly, his 89th-minute goal proved to be his last for Arsenal in competitive football.

He was the focus of the first match at Arsenal’s new ground, the Emirates Stadium. On 22 July 2006, a testimonial was played in his honour at the new stadium as Arsenal played his old club Ajax.

Dennis made his international debut for the Netherlands national team against Italy on 26 September 1990. He was selected for Euro 1992, where his national team were the defending champions. Although he impressed, scoring three goals in the tournament, the team lost on penalties to eventual champions Denmark. In the qualification for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, hep scored five goals and was selected for the finals, staged in the United States. He featured in every game for the national team, getting goals against Morocco in the group stages and the Republic of Ireland in the round of 16.

Against Wales in the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification on 9 November 1996, he scored his first hat-trick for the national team. The Netherlands finished first in their group and qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, held in France. Dennis scored three times in the competition, including a memorable winning goal in the final minute of the quarterfinal against Argentina. He took one touch to control a long 60-yard aerial pass from Frank de Boer, brought the ball down through Argentine defender Roberto Ayala’s legs, and finally finished by firing a volley with the outside of his right foot, past the keeper at a tight angle from the right, he described the goal as his personal favourite in his career. His international career ended with 37 goals in 77 appearances.

In April of 2007, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame by viewers of BBC’s Football Focus. A year later, he was voted second by Arsenal fans behind Thierry Henry in a list of the 50 Gunners Greatest Players.

This is a summary of his achievements.

Dutch Football Talent of the Year (1): 1990

Dutch Footballer of the Year (2): 1991, 1992

Eredivisie Top Scorer (3): 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93

UEFA European Football Championship Top Scorer (1): 1992

UEFA European Football Championship Team of the Tournament (1): 1992

World’s Top Goal Scorer of the Year (1): 1992

UEFA Cup Top Scorer (1): 1994

Premier League Player of the Month (4): August 1997, September 1997, March 2002, February 2004

PFA Team of the Year (1): 1997–98

FWA Footballer of the Year (1): 1997–98

PFA Players’ Player of the Year (1): 1997–98

Premier League Goal of the Season (2): 1997–98, 2001–02

FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1): 1998

FIFA 100

English Football Hall of Fame

His statue now stands outside Emirates Stadium honouring him as one of Arsenal’s legends.

Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp emotional as statue is unveiled at ... 

Dennis scored his 100th goal in an away FA Cup game against Oxford United on January 4th, 2003. 

Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
16 Denis Bergkamp 1995-06 423 296 120 0.28
17 John Radford 1962-76 481 306 149 0.31
18 Joe Hulme 1926-38 374 307 125 0.33
19 Theo Walcott 2005-18 397 370 108 0.27
** Games played to reach 100 goals.

 GunnerN5

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 48 Comments

Gems of the Season: Nr3 The Wee Beasty From Brazil

What a revelation Gabriel Martinelli has been for us this season. There is of course plenty of technical talent and he is playing with that freedom of being a youngster with relatively low expectations on his shoulder, but there are strong signs that this wee beasty from Brazil has what it takes to become a truly great player.

young gunners feb 20

It is quite something to come to the UK as an 18 year young Brazilian and try and settle in AND perform straightaway whilst working for three managers in less than a season. Martinelli has build up good relationships and especially Saka is a good friend already. It shows on the pitch as they find each other with ease and celebrate each other goals with mutual appreciation.

If and when Martinelli is on the pitch he will put in a performance, and his passion combined with his technical ability and deadliness in front of goal has made him already a favourite with the fans. Together with Aubameyang he is our top scorer in the UEFA-League (3 goals, 2 assists) and in the PL he is currently our fourth best goal scorer with three goals in just 650 minutes, roughly a same average of minutes per goal as the experienced Lacazette.

It is great to watch Gabriel as he always wants to make things happen. He takes on players with his great initial acceleration and then has the calm to pick the right pass or cross. In this he is very similar to Saka and yet this is so rare to find in youngsters. We can count ourselves lucky to have (at least) two of these very fine youngsters in our squad.

The highlight of his so very young career is of course THAT goal v the Chavs. It typified him: always looking for an opportunity, giving everything once he gets one and then such determination to score that goal. But what has also been impressive is his positioning in the box and his finishing. Martinelli is cool customer in the heat of the fight and if he can develop that further he will really become a top, top player.

It is early days of course and once expectations have been raised young players will find things a lot harder. I also feel that he is not yet playing the way Arteta wants him to and as such we saw less of him in the last half a dozen games. Balancing this determination to go and attack with being an effective part in the ‘team-game’ is probably his biggest area of development. But with Gabriel’s ability, hunger and willingness to learn I have the highest hopes that this brightest of gems will shine for us in the foreseeable future, whenever that will be. 😦

See the source image

Stay safe and at home fellow BKers. Look after yourself and loved ones and appreciate and support the Key Workers at much as possible. 

TotalArsenal.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Arsenal’s Best Attackers Ever: Nr17 – our youngest-ever hat-trick scorer

Arsenal’s Century Club – John Radford

Radford overhead kick (1)

John Radford was born on 22 February 1947 in Hemsworth, Yorkshire.

He joined Arsenal as an apprentice in 1962, turning professional in February 1964.

During an interview he said – “I well remember the day before my debut in Arsenal’s senior side. It was Friday 20th March 1964, just a month after my 17th birthday. In those days we youngsters had to do all sorts of menial tasks around the place and one of them that day was to clean the baths at Highbury stadium. I was scrubbing away when the next thing I knew, our manager Billy Wright was standing watching me. “John, you’ll need to rest up a bit when you’ve finished doing that”.” he said looking serious.

Why’s that?” I replied a bit puzzled.

“Because you’re playing at West Ham tomorrow” he said and walked away leaving me stunned as you can well imagine.”

John was a prolific goal scorer in his youth but his only appearance in 1964-65 was his debut game against West Ham. In the 1965-66 season he played 15 times, and became Arsenal’s youngest ever hat-trick scorer, against Wolves on 2 January 1965, at the age of 17 years and 315 days, a record that remains to this day.

He soon became an Arsenal regular, and blossomed under the management of Bertie Mee; in 1968-69, although he had been moved out to the right wing, he scored nineteen goals and reached the 1969 League Cup final. As he peaked, so did Arsenal; in 1969-70 he again scored nineteen goals, and helped Arsenal win the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, their first trophy in seventeen years; John scored the second goal in Arsenal’s 3-0 win in the second leg of the final, which they won 4-3 on aggregate.

John Radford and Charlie George iconoc image. (1)

John was moved up front again and continued to score regularly. The following season (1970-71) he scored 21 goals, his best single tally in a season, forming a partnership with Ray Kennedy they recorded 47 goals between them. With his goals, John was an instrumental part of Arsenal’s FA Cup and League Championship double-winning side, and his assists played an important role too; he set up Kennedy for the winning goal in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final replay win against Stoke City, and set up both Eddie Kelly and Charlie George for their goals in the Final against Liverpool.

He continued to play for Arsenal through the early 1970s, scoring another 19 goals in 1972-73. However, his goal rate gradually reduced (only achieving single figures in 1973-74 and 1974-75) and he was injured in 1975-76, further restricting his appearances. By now, the partnership of Malcolm Macdonald and Frank Stapleton had become Arsenal’s first-choice attacking duo and John only played twice in the first four months of 1976-77.

Unable to keep a regular place in the side, he moved on to West Ham United in December 1976 for £80,000. After a year and 28 league appearances and no goals with the Hammers, Radford joined Blackburn Rovers in 1977. He was moderately successful with the Second Division side, scoring ten times in 38 league appearances. He left Rovers in 1978 and played for non-league Bishop’s Stortford before retiring. After retiring, he became a pub landlord, and enjoyed several spells as manager of Bishop’s Stortford in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

John Radford 24th in Arsenal top 50. (1)

In all he played 485 times for Arsenal, scoring 149 goals, which makes him Arsenal’s fourth all-time top scorer.

John Radford – Goals Scored
    Apps Subs Goals
1963 1964 1 0 0
1964 1965 15 0 9
1965 1966 32 0 8
1966 1967 34 0 7
1967 1968 52 0 14
1968 1969 41 3 19
1969 1970 55 0 19
1970 1971 62 0 21
1971 1972 47 1 14
1972 1973 45 1 19
1973 1974 37 0 7
1974 1975 38 0 9
1975 1976 19 0 3
1976 1977 1 1 0
Totals : 479 6 149

His 100th goal was scored against Leicester City at Highbury on September 25th 1971 in his 306th game for Arsenal.

Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
17 John Radford 1962-76 481 306 149 0.31
18 Joe Hulme 1926-38 374 307 125 0.33
19 Theo Walcott 2005-18 397 370 108 0.27
** Games played to reach 100 goals.

Finally, in a supporter’s poll to determine Arsenal’s all time top 50 players John placed 24th.

GunnerN5

Posted in Uncategorized | 36 Comments

Arsenal’s Best Attackers Ever: Nr18 – first player ever to appear in 5 Wembley finals

Arsenal’s Century Club – Joe Hulme 

Joe Hulme on the right (1)

Joseph Harold Anthony Hulme (26 August 1904 – 27 September 1991) was born in Stafford.

Early on he played for the Stafford YMCA usually on the right wing. He started his career in non-league football in October 1922 with York City and moved on to Blackburn Rovers in February 1924 where he made 74 league appearances.

In February 1926 Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman was looking for a fast skilful winger and he purchased Joe Hulme for £3,500. He joined a team that included – David Jack, Jimmy Brain, Jack Lambert, Bob John, Jack Butler, Andy Neil, Jimmy Ramsey, Billy Blyth, Cliff Bastin, Herbert Roberts, Alf Baker and Tom Parker.

Joe Hulme made his debut against Leeds United on 6th February 1926. He was an immediate success and by the end of the first season Hulme’s startling pace had become his trade mark, his main trick being to push the ball past the opposing full-back then tear past him.

Hulme won his first international cap for England against Scotland on 2nd April 1927. England won the game 2-1. Hulme retained his place in the team and that year played against Belgium (9-1), France (6-0), Northern Ireland (0-2) and Wales (1-2). Other members of the England team that year included Dixie Dean, Tom Cooper, Stanley Earle, Edward Hufton and Alf Baker. In total Joe won nine caps for England, between 1927 and 1933.

In October 1927, Herbert Chapman signed Eddie Hapgood, a 19 year old milkman, who was playing for non-league Kettering Town for a fee of £750. This was followed by the purchase of David Jack (£10,000), Cliff Bastin (£2,000) and Alex James (£8,750).In the 1929-30 season Arsenal finished in 14th place in the First Division. However in the FA Cup they beat Birmingham City (1-0), Middlesbrough (2-0), West Ham United (3-0) and Hull City (1-0) to reach the final against Chapman’s old club, Huddersfield Town. Arsenal won the game 2-0 with goals from Alex James and Jack Lambert and Joe Hulme had his first cup winners’ medal.

The following season Arsenal won their first ever First Division Championship with a record 66 points. The Gunners only lost four games that season. Jack Lambert was top-scorer with 38 goals. Other important players in the team included Joe Hulme, Frank Moss, Alex James, David Jack, Cliff Bastin, Eddie Hapgood, Bob John, Jimmy Brain, Tom Parker, Herbert Roberts, Alf Baker and George Male.

Joe Hulme at Highbury (3)

Arsenal’s Century Club
# Player Years Games ** Goals GPG
18 Joe Hulme 1926-38 374 307 125 0.33
19 Theo Walcott 2005-18 397 370 108 0.27
** Games played to reach 100 goals.

Joe Hulme scored his 100th goal for Arsenal in his 307th game.

In January 1938 Hulme was transferred to Huddersfield Town. His last senior appearance was in the 1938 FA Cup Final against Preston North End making him the first player ever to appear in five Wembley cup finals.

Honours

Arsenal

Football League Division 1 winner – 1930–31, 1932–33, 1933–34, 1934–35

FA Cup winner – 1930, 1936

FA Cup finalist – 1927, 1932

Huddersfield Town

FA Cup finalist – 1938

Joe Hulme was also a fine all round cricketer he was a right-handed middle order batsman, right-arm medium bowler and superb deep fieldsman. He represented Middlesex 223 times between 1929 and 1939 and accumulated 8,103 runs (av. 26.56) with twelve centuries and a top score of 143. He hit 1,000 runs in a season three times with a best of 1,258 (av. 34.94) in 1934. He bagged 89 wickets (av. 36.40) with a best of 4 for 44 and he held 110 catches.

After World War II he worked as a police reserve and played for the Metropolitan Police side; he went on to manage Tottenham Hotspur for four years after which he became a sports journalist up until his retirement in 1965.

He passed away at Winchmore Hill, Middlesex, aged 87, on September 26, 1991.

Joe Hulme card (1)

GunnerN5

Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments

Arsenal’s Best Attackers Ever: Nr19 His Name is Devine

Arsenal’s Century Club – Theo Walcott

Theo-Walcott-celebrates-h-008

At times Theo was, honouring his name, Godly!

Today we start to look at the players who are members of – “The Arsenal Century Club”

Nineteen players have achieved the feat and they played for the club over the past 96 years. The players are sorted by the number of games taken to reach the 100 goal mark.

We start today with the player who took the most games and we will finish the series of posts with the player who took the least.

Theo James Walcott was born 16 March 1989 in Stanmore, London, but grew up in Compton, Berkshire. He attended Compton Church of England Primary School and The Downs School. Nike agreed to a sponsorship deal with Walcott when he was fourteen years old. He is a product of the Southampton Academy and started his career with Southampton before Arsene Wenger signed him for Arsenal in 2006 for £5 million.

He initially joined as a scholar, having agreed to sign a professional contract on his 17th birthday on 16 March 2006.

On 30 May 2006, Walcott became England’s youngest ever senior football player aged 17 years and 75 days. In December, he received the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award. On 6 September 2008, he made his first competitive start in a World Cup qualifier against Andorra. He has represented England at the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2012 and has 47 caps, scoring eight goals. In September 2008 against Croatia he became the youngest player ever to score a hat-trick for the full England side, aged just 19.

His first goal for Arsenal came in the 2007 League Cup Final against Chelsea at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on 25 February 2007. His 12th-minute strike was overshadowed by events later on in the match: John Terry was knocked unconscious, Didier Drogba scored twice to give Chelsea a 2–1 victory and three players were sent off following a mass brawl.

Some word’s from the man himself-

“I was only 17 and hadn’t even played in the Premiership when I went to Germany. It wasn’t my decision to pick me. But it was good experience to train with world-class players, see the way they handled themselves.

“I never read the papers, so I never know what people are saying about me. That helps. The environment I’m in with the other players around me, I don’t really see what is in the papers. Of course I wanted to play for Arsenal. But I was only 17 and I didn’t want to play too much and get injuries. The boss has done brilliantly with me and now I’m ready to push on.”

Some more words-

Football is about opinions, but love me or hate me I don’t really care,” he said.

“I have been so pleased with everything I have achieved and I’ve enjoyed everything about it. Even with the injuries, it is part of the game. I genuinely wouldn’t change anything, I don’t have any regrets. 

“I’ve seen players come through who everyone says, ‘They’re the next best thing’ and they put so much pressure on them, but then they go down the leagues and down the leagues and you just don’t hear about them anymore. But if you’re strong up here [mentally] and you have good people around you, then you can get through it.”

This may come as a surprise, but Walcott is a published author.

He has written no less than four children’s books for his “T.J and the…” series.

He was just 21 when they were published in 2010. The lead character, TJ, appears to be based on the author. Goodreads rated every one of the books at least 4.5/5.

Arsenal 100 Goal Club
# Player From To Total ** Per game
19 Theo Walcott 2005 2018 108 370 0.27
** Games played to reach 100 goals.

In his 370th game for Arsenal on February 20th 2017 he scored his 100th goal in a 2-0 FA Cup victory over Sutton United.

Throughout his last season at Arsenal, he was mainly used in the Europa League and in the EFL Cup, and he only made 6 substitute appearances in the Premier League. By October, he was increasingly on the fringes and was criticised following a poor performance when made captain in a 2–1 League Cup victory at home to Championship side Norwich City.

On 17 January 2018, Walcott signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Everton, ending his time at Arsenal.

GunnerN5

Posted in Uncategorized | 44 Comments

Life After Ozil: Who Should Replace our Mozart?

The succession of Mesut Ozil

cover_ka_mozart_0705301838_id_13104

What makes a good #10 in football?

While it might be a cliché, my answer would be unpredictability. Or maybe I’m cheating, as a player can only be unpredictable, if he/she is highly capable of dribbling, passing and scoring. That makes the life of a defender a nightmare, because if you mark the attacker the #10 might get to shooting distance, but if you step up to stop him, he might provide an assist with a through ball behind the gap you left behind. And a fine player always has a few tricks up their sleeves from a one-touch pass to a cheeky nutmeg. Because #10s are also especially skilled in ball control.

That usually makes them contenders to take set-pieces, but this is not a obligatory. If you visit Mesut Ozils’s WhoScored profile, it checks most boxes: he is a great passer and crosser, he is strong when it comes to holding – and controlling – the ball, he is dangerous with set pieces. On the other hand he is more vulnerable in aerial duels and doesn’t bring those defensive contributions to the team as the holding midfielders.

https://1xbet.whoscored.com/Players/13756/Show/Mesut-%C3%96zil

Mesut has 1 year left on his contract. I don’t think we would (nor could) sell him in the summer, and he should take a hefty salary cut if he wants to stay with the club after 2021. So our question for today: who will be Arsenal’s main attacking midfielder from 2021? I will high-light 3 alternatives, and looking forward to your view on the subject.

  1. NOBODY

Many top clubs play without a #10. For example Liverpool has such a strong front 3 that they don’t deploy a further attacking player. Same applies to Juventus and FC Barcelona, they play with 3 CMs behind a deadly trio of attackers. And while Isco, one of the best AMs of our time works for Real Madrid, the royal club often plays without him in the regular 4-3-3 formation with 3 defensive-minded midfielders. But there are other popular formations without a #10: Inter plays in 3-5-2, and when Eriksen is on the bench, they rely on the 2 strikers (Lukaku & Martinez). Atletico Madrid plays 4-4-2, and they don’t even have an attacking midfielder in their squad. Borussia Dortmund play a visually attractive attacking football in 3-4-3. So it is perfectly feasible to play without a #10.

However, many top clubs still use them: Man City has de Bruyne, Tottenham has Alli, Leicester has Maddison, United has Fernandes (the best transfer of the season). However. Leicester and Tottenham don’t play a front 4 – and even Man City rarely puts de Bruyne with Silva and Sterling to support the lone striker – so the 2 clubs (besides Arsenal) that regularly plays 4 attacking player are Bayern Munich (where either Müller or Coutinho supports the already tough trio of Gnabry, Coman & Lewandowski) and Manchester United (where Fernandes provides the front 3 with key passes).

I’m 100% positive that we would concede a lot less goals in the regular 4-3-3 formation with Xhaka, Torreira and Ceballos at midfield (thus no #10), but most likely we would score a lot less too. I’m not preferring this option, but it is clearly an alternative. It is up to Arteta and the club to pursue this scenario if they see reasonable.

  1. SOMEONE FROM THE TEAM

Let’s see, who can be a capable successor for Ozil among those who already play for Arsenal. I will list a few options and try to give a score how well they could supersede the German magician.

A: Dani Ceballos

He is good with the ball, and has a vision that not many player have. He has the dribbling skills of Ozil and not bad with short and long range passing either. But he is a weak finisher. Plus he is too good with tackles and interceptions, so the #10 role is not a perfect fit for him. Successor score: 7.0

B: Lucas Torreira

While Emery tried him (to our surprise) in box-to-box role as well as in #10 I don’t really think that would be a viable option. He can pass, but doesn’t have the vision of an attacking midfielder. He is not a big threat for the goalkeeper. And his key skills like tackles and concentration would be misused in a more advanced role. Successor score: 4.5

C: Joe Willock

Many see him as Ozil’s successor, but I’m not among them. Only if we abandon the #10 concept and replace the German with a box-to-box midfielder. Because Willock is indeed a box-to-box midfielder. He has the stamina to run all game, he has the muscular build to look for body vs. body challenges. Joe can dribble and he’s not a bad finisher either, but he is a weak passer. But even worse: he is a poor decision maker. And those 2 skills are vital for a #10. Successor score: 5.0

D: Emile Smith-Rowe

The 19-year-old is a natural central attacking midfielder. His competency profile is practically identical to Ozil’s: strong in passing, dribbling, chance creation, weak in aerial duels and defensive contribution. According to TransferMarkt he is right-footed, but I think he is as close to being ambidextrous as it gets. He already has 18 junior caps and played in the Europa League, the FA Cup and the Premier League. Just look at this video – especially at 1:18 and 1:56 – and don’t forget, this was 2 years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aeh_HipbupM He has the raw talent, no doubt about that. Now it is up to him and the coach to bring the best out of him. Successor score: 9.0

E: Gabriel Martinelli

He is a year younger yet worth 9 times as ESR, but less of a natural choice for the #10 role. He is another gem of the season – I think TA is already composing his post on him – as he is an efficient, almost clinical scorer and a dangerous, fast winger. Unfortunately we have better strikers in the squad (disregarding current form it is unlikely that he would displace Auba, Lacazette or Nketiah from the first team and the primary substitute), and similar applies on the wing as Auba and Pepe, hell maybe even Nelson comes before him in the pecking order. But for somebody who is a capable finisher, a fine dribbler and doesn’t mind switching between the wing and the center he can be a surprise yet viable candidate for the #10 role. He has to work on his passing skills, but never say never. Successor score: 8.0

  1. A NEW SIGNING

Given our financial situation I don’t think we have either the cash or the attractiveness to sign Kai Havertz – my main man for the position – and the ships to buy Donny van de Beek or Martin Odegaard have probably also sailed. The only way to sign an experienced, big name attacking midfielder is the Aubameyang-swap. We can either exchange him to Coutinho with Barcelona (who earns a lot, but does have a good season in Munich) or swapping the Gabonese with the duo of Ceballos and Isco with Real Madrid. Isco is 27 (just like Coutinho), but didn’t have a single assist this season. Ceballos and Isco together worth 81M according to Transfermarkt, but Real wants to get rid of him in a major summer overhaul, while we would rather stick to our Golden Boot candidate captain, so this double swap is not entirely unlikely.

We decided not to sign Cristopher Nkunku in the summer, which was probably a mistake. We could have bought him on the cheap as he was a former Emery player who was not satisfied with the lack of minutes at PSG. They sold him to RB Leipzig for 11M in the summer, and after 19 goal contribution in 2000 minutes he worth more than 31M now. But that is all in hindsight.

We are often rumoured with the following young starlets: Eberechi Eze, 21 (QPR, 12 goals and 8 assist in 3400 minutes), Jonathan David, 20 (KAA Gent, 23 goals and 10 assists in 3250 minutes) and Orkun Kökcü 19 (Feyenoord, 3 goals and 6 assists in 2800 minutes but another 19 goal contribution last year in 2000 min). From them I would go with the latter, whose only main disadvantage is his name. (Especially as Jonathan David has already stated that a jump to a TOP6 club in the EPL would be too soon for him.)

Among those who haven’t been associated with an Arsenal move, my choice would be the Croatian Nikola Vlasic, 22, currently playing for CSKA Moscow. He has already played for Everton. Good at passing and dribbling, and capable of dangerous long shots. He is not a shere talent as Ozil or ESR, but he is diligent, hard-working and experienced.

mesut happy

What do you think? Who should be Mesut Ozil’s successor?

By Pbarany

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Gems of the Season: Nr2 The Sumptuous Creator – Mesut Ozil

An ‘old’ Gunner, one that many believed was never going to be a key player at Arsenal again, is my next Gem of the Season. Mesut is a complicated character: very talented, a bit moody and in need of love and respect to be at his best, but so talented and gifted and much needed in our squad.

Arteta knew how important the German was to his team and gave him his unconditional support from the start. This was key after Emery messed with him so badly, which was one of the poorest man-management approaches I have ever witnessed.

Are we seeing Mesut at his very best? No. Will we ever see him at his very best? Well that remains to be seen, but he has been a key player for us once again, as this video will show you:

I am not sure whether playing three attackers with limited passing ability is optimal for Mesut’s talents, but they do need to be supplied with great service and Mesut is by far best suited for this.

Unfortunately, the season is (almost certainly) over and Ozil will not get a chance to get to his very best any time soon. There should be little doubt that he will be a Gunner next season, as Arteta knows he is pivotal to his team and Mesut is a loyal kind of a guy. So there is a reason to rejoice, and if Mikel will go with an attack of Ozil, Auba and one or two proper, ball-tight, ball-passing wingers, like Nelson and Saka, we should certainly have another good season out of the German maestro.

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Gems of The Season: Nr1 The Silk – Bukayo Saka

This season is as good as over folks so we may as well start analysing it a bit. It feels that Emery is a much more distant memory than the amount of time he actually has been away from the club, but with an election, the ‘start’ of Brexit, the death of our beloved dog Henry, and the outbreak of the pandemic, a lot has happened since Freddie and then Mikel took over; and this season will be remembered for decades. albeit mainly negatively, I fear.

One of the few really BIG sparks of the season (so far) is without any doubt the emergence of the silkiest Gunner in a generation: Bukayo Saka. Four goals and eight assists in 1721 minutes of football for the club in all competitions, and that at just 18 years of age. Pretty amazing. But stats do not tell the whole story about Bukayo who has played most of his minutes as a defender, albeit with a licence to attack, and then attack again.

Watch this video even though it contains nothing new to your eyes, I reckon. Such is his impact on us that we know all his moves and key moments. The use of his speed, body and strong balance, as well as his ability to read the game well, make a more than decent defender. There are areas for improvement but very few teams tried to constantly put pressure on our left side of defence during the season, which is an indication that they didn’t see Saka as a weakness in our defence.

Bukayo is a very sharp passer of the ball and he combines so naturally with his fellow players. His first touch is good and his first pass is quick and almost always measured.

But what is most impressive is his ability to be simultaneously intense and calm, which reminds me a bit of Marc Overmars’ time at the home of football. Attack space and get past a player (or two), look up for the best next move, deliver a peach of a cross or pass, and boom we score a goal: that’s Saka!

Bukayo is also constantly in control of the moment and the space around him… at just 18 years of age. Fellow BKers did we ever have a finer gem on our hands?

trumpets

By TotalArsenal.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments