Tag Archives: david

David Luiz – An Improvement?

A lot of conversation has taken place in the wake of our active transfer window – and most of that has surrounded our defence.

David Luiz, William Saliba and Kieran Tierney were the defensive additions this summer, but do they constitute what we needed to revitalise our last line of resistance?

Mark Lawrenson recently commented on our purchases and how our backline will cope this coming season. He proffered that while David Luiz is an excellent footballer, he is not an excellent defender.

Harsh criticism? Perhaps, but a lot of experts have spoken about Luiz’s struggles with lining up in a back four and his decent showings in a back three.

The Brazilian is known for his superior technique and ball control, so much so that he has often been utilised in midfield as a sentry figure and one who can distribute the ball.

With William Saliba on loan for the season and very much a figure for the future, we currently have Rob Holding, Sokratis, Calum Chambers, Dinos Mavropanos and Zech Medley as our central defensive units. Do any of them have the missing attributes we have been searching for since Sol Campbell departed the club?

Being Arsenal, our defenders will always be held up to a higher level of scrutiny. We have the highest set of standards because we had what was probably the best defence ever seen in the modern generation. Dixon, Adams, Bould, Keown and Winterburn are part of the fabric of our club and the benchmark.

Since they retired, only Campbell and Toure for a short time have come close to that level. What is the level though?

What is it we need – and do our current crop have it?

The two characteristics we are perceived to lack are consistency and leadership. The consistency can be bred over time and can be achieved with a settled backline. So that is very much up in the air. Plus, we have defenders who have shown they can perform over a stretch of games. Sokratis last season hardly put a foot wrong. Rob Holding before his injury was a revelation.

Then there is the leadership quandary. A leader can be someone who leads by example. Laurent Koscielny was one of these. Then you have leaders who rangle their troops together vocally and by the way they deal with adversity. A stout heart and a puffed out chest.

Do we have that?

Sokratis seems an obvious choice on that front, but Luiz has always been a candidate at every club he has been at. Perhaps giving him the armband is a bit much, but can he show the younger players the right way? Can he bring the best out of his teammates? That would be a yes.

Luiz was a regular for the majority of his times at Chelsea and at PSG. That doesn’t happen by accident. While his best years may be behind him, the short term acquisition gives us a body that can cover us more than adequately.

David Luiz signs

Harking back to the titans of the past is a fruitless exercise, aside from the sweet pangs of nostalgia. A lot of our defence can be our approach to the game, and a more adaptable midfield who can track back and press attacks – so Guendouzi, Ceballos, Xhaka and Willock have a lot of pressure on their shoulders too.

For now, we can look upon our signings positively, and our squad seems well stocked in all regions. Players like Luiz will help us far more than the experts seem to think he will, and his struggles in a back four have been exacerbated a tad.

The bottom line is that will he improve on Mustafi? That is a definite yes!

Book Signing Event!

By now, the majority of you are well aware that my book, Almost Invincible, is being released.

 

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It has been a labour of love for me. Writing my first book about a subject I feel so passionately about was a fantastic and frustrating experience. Fantastic because I got to relive every facet of the fantastic 1990/91 title winning side and share in the experiences of those that achieved it – and frustrating as I tried to make every single word as excellent as the displays on the pitch during that amazing campaign.

Now, the book will have a launch event.

 

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On the 12th of August, the day of our first game of the season against Man City, at 7pm, come along to The Gunners Pub, 204 Blackstock Rd. David Hillier, a member of the 90/91 squad, will be there to sign your books – as well as some special guests…

So, it’d be great to see you there. I speak to so many of you regularly through social media, so please come along so I can thank you in person for the support!

It is a dual event, with another Arsenal book – Royal Arsenal, Champions of the South – being launched too.  This is a fascinating window into Arsenal’s origins in the South of London, and well worth a read for any discerning Gooner.

It’ll be a blast, I hope you can all make what will be a memorable evening!

12 August, 7pm, The Gunners Pub.

Be there!

Rocky Remembered

Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent.”

Sometimes, words fall short, but not the quote above.

Any attempt to give a label to the man who is responsible for the above quote is pointless, because sometimes, words cannot justify what we have, or had.

David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle is the epitome of the word ‘legend,’ but that oft-used moniker doesn’t begin to cover the impact the player and man has had on not only our club, but generations of fans.

How does a player become the equivalent of amber? Their story forever encased to enjoy, a yarn passed down to neverending eras of support.

Rocky is held up as the example to all of what we want from a player. He is the barometer for the swashbuckling, brave football we all desire.

He is the gauge for the devotion we want our players to have for the cannon.

He is the level with which we use to judge the man behind the boots, jersey and pitch exertions.

Rocky was cruelly taken from us far too early, and it’s painful to imagine what role he would have with the club today.

Because he would undoubtedly still have ties to Arsenal should he be around today, for his love for Arsenal knew no bounds. He had the skills to pass down to today’s young bucks, he had the sage mentality to make sure lessons were learned, he had the fierce will to win that should be embedded in all professionals. He would have been a fantastic coach.

He is already an ambassador to the club, despite him not being with us in tangible form. We hold Rocky up and embrace him as a symbol of not only the happiest of memories, but of gratitude that such a player graced us with his presence.

There are many fans not lucky enough to have seen him in the first person and what he could do to an opponent. His twinkling feet were a blur, his shifting of direction was subtle and ruthless, leaving defenders with no idea how to stop him other than a petulant kick. Even that was something that he could deal with. The reason? Because he was schooled in The Arsenal Way, and knowing he had his teammates backing him no matter what is one hell of a confidence boost. He never backed down, he never shirked a challenge, he never gave an inch. If he wanted something, he went and got it.

He gave us goosebumps with his exploits, but he also gave us so much more, even today. He’ll always be a hero to us.

He is immortalised as not only a blessed player who adored the crest that adorned his chest, but as a man too – and that speaks volumes. Rocky was the local lad come good, he was the wing wizard who bewitched us all, he was the man who displayed everything we wanted to be.

His famous quote is famous because not only does it sum up the man to a tee – but it is also a fine mantra for your own life. “Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent.”

David Seaman – The Safest Of Hands.

The old adage goes, ‘You have to be mad to be a goalkeeper.’ This stereotype is a perfect fit for the majority of the men between the sticks, as they fling head and body into situations and places that would normally warrant full-body protection gear. 

Not only is it physical danger that makes up a large part of their vocation. Long periods of solitude during games, with only vitriolic masses as company, goalkeepers spend a huge amount of time attempting to stay alert, battling their own wits as the play unfolds away from them.

David Seaman does not fit this well-worn molding. Standing tall at 1.93 metres, the giant keeper was the anti-thesis of the usual mental framework of a man wearing Number One on his back.

Perhaps his greatest strength was his zen-like temperament. No matter the battle that was ensuing in front of him, or even if it was directed at him, the deep-voiced Yorkshireman simply got on with his game. 

Was it his level of concentration that allowed him to brush off any extraneous niggles that would waylay a regular goalkeeper? Or was it merely his upbringing and his personality that meant he cared little for drama? Either way, it allowed Seaman to fully exert his towering influence into being the sure footing that his defence needed.

The big man from Leeds that would go on to be known as ‘Safe Hands’ started his career with his hometown club, Leeds United, but he didn’t feature in the Managers plans, so a £4k move to Peterborough United gave his career the escape route it needed.

Two full seasons in the then 4th Division were enough to see him catapult up to the 2nd, with a move to Birmingham City. Again, two full seasons was all it took for David to earn another transfer up the leagues – this time to QPR.

This gave him the spotlight his dazzling talent deserved, and he soon piqued the interest of England boss Bobby Robson. It wasn’t only Robson and England that were sniffing round the Yorkshireman either.

Arsenal had an inside man at QPR, and he was ideally placed to run the rule over Seaman. His goalkeeping coach at Loftus Road was none other than 1971 Double winning keeper Bob Wilson, and Arsenal’s gentleman had a very high opinion of David.

Before the season of 1990/91 began, Arsenal and George Graham moved to bring him to Highbury. The current Gunners keeper was the popular John Lukic, but Graham badly wanted who he thought would be the future England Number One for years to come. He wasn’t wrong. 

His first season at Arsenal underlined his talent in the most emphatic way. 23 clean sheets and just 18 goals conceded embossed and emboldened Graham’s comments before purchasing Seaman – “I still think John Lukic is one of the top three goalkeepers in the country. I just think David Seaman is the best.”

Thirteen seasons of excellence was David Seaman’s legacy at the club. A hatful of trophies were symptomatic of his professionalism and he must surely rank as one of the finest exponents of goalkeeping the Premier League has ever seen.

It is criminal to round up Seaman’s Arsenal career in just a few paragraphs, but to truly do the big man justice, you would be reading this article from sun up to sundown. The man with the famous ponytail and best moustache since Magnum P.I gave our club the most assured presence in the box, and this in turn was a massive factor for why our club could boast the finest defence the League has ever seen. For how good can a defence be without a great goalkeeper behind them?

The majority of non-Gooners will always recall Seaman being lobbed by Ronaldinho, and allied with Nayim’s lob for Zaragoza, means that Seaman will unfairly have his critics. A goalkeeper has the hardest job on the pitch though – in what other position can you play well for 89 minutes but a simple mistake will more often than not result in disaster?

Seaman was the silent sentry that stood guard for well over a decade, and his consistently epic displays spread out over such a long tenure spells out a goalkeeping career that deserves to stand tall alongside the greatest that the world has had to offer. Dino Zoff, Lev Yashin, Gianluigi Buffon, Andoni Zubizaretta, and Peter Schmeichel are regarded as the examples that all young keepers must aspire to. 

David Seaman deserves to be included in that glittering group of goalies. 

Safe Hands was a more than warranted moniker for him.