Tag Archives: germany

Nelson’s Brave Loan Move

A few months ago, I penned a blog looking at the future of starlet Reiss Nelson.

It was on the back of his breakthrough season at Arsenal. He had impressed in pre-season, and his displays for the Under-23’s the campaign prior were filled with rave reviews and tongues wagging about this precocious talent.

He was rewarded with a prominent place amongst the Europa League squad, where he looked every inch a first teamer. While his trickery was dialled down a smidgin, his effectiveness and work rate were just as impressive.

It left Nelson at a crossroads in his fledgling career, and with his contract entering its final year, I surmised his options and where each path could take him.

Enter Unai Emery, and the Spaniard has picked up where Wenger left off, in terms of leaving the door open to our Academy graduates. Jo Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Emile Smith-Rowe  and Nelson have all been included in first-team affairs and while first team opportunities have been hard to come by in our first games this season, the arduous nature of the season hasn’t reared its ugly head yet and that is where these kids can feature.

Nelson has obviously seen enough to know that his immediate future lies with Arsenal, as he has been persuaded to ignore the inevitable approaches, and sign on the dotted line for the foreseeable.

Reiss-Nelson-contract-2018

His new deal will see Nelson ply his trade in the Bundesliga this season, as the winger will play for Hoffenheim for the campaign.

This move is an incredibly brave one for the youngster.

There would have been opportunities to remain in England, at the cutting edge of the game still, and up his minutes on the pitch.

Instead, he has gone to an exciting foreign side, managed by one of the hottest coaching properties in the game.

Julian Nagelsmann is an incredibly young manager, but what he has done for Hoffenheim in a short space of time has placed him on the radar for all the European giants.

Most importantly for Nelson though, is that Nagelsmann has a firm grasp on modern, tactical football. It will enable Nelson to adapt and come back into the Emery fold with more tools in his armoury.

Nelson has gone to Germany where communication for even the simplest things will be difficult. It is the better opportunity for his career though, and a great barometer to gauge where he needs to be for his Arsenal future.

Nagelsmann has already commented on Nelson before he signed, saying “If it all works out, we’ll have a great player with pace who can do a lot with the ball.”

Nelson could well follow in the footsteps of Jadon Sancho, who moved permanently to Dortmund and has since seen his stock rise immeasurably. While Nelson has committed his future to Arsenal, a move to the Bundesliga can pay off handsomely. The tactics and the level are high, and Nelson, if he gets enough starts, could come back a far more polished diamond than we had before.

So we will all keep a close eye on events in Hoffenheim. To watch a player we all know has the skill, but if he can make it at a tender age in a foreign land, then his mental fortitude and hunger will be exactly where it needs to be too.

Minutes into his first outing, Reiss scored and made an instant impact.

Good luck Reiss, we are all rooting for you.

Sokratis Signs For Arsenal – Here’s What To Know About Our New Defender

Sokratis Papastathopoulos has finally signed on the dotted line for Arsenal, after a delay in officially announcing the defender.

In what must be one of the worst kept secrets in recent transfer windows, Sokratis has signed and been declared a Gunner after joining from Borussia Dortmund after five years with the German club – for a fee thought to be around 17.7m.
The 30 year old was officially declared by the club yesterday, but what do we know about our new defender?


Well, we know that former Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel has said Sokratis is ‘obsessed’ by defending, and that he is Vice Captain for Greece. He was at Werder Bremen before joining BVB, and has a fixation on the backline perhaps thanks to his time in Italy with AC Milan and Genoa.

Sokratis joins Bernd Leno and Stephane Lichtsteiner as Arsenal new boys this summer, and will also join up with former Dortmund teammates Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. A sure fire sign that Sven Mislintat is involved heavily in the recent recruitment process.

Sokratis revealed to the Arsenal media team he had spoken to his former comrades about joining, saying “I spoke to them a lot. They said to me the best thing about the club is that it’s one big family and of course they called me a lot of times telling me to come here.”

Sokratis, when asked about his thoughts on his new club, said “Arsenal is one of the biggest three teams in the Premier League, and one very big club. It has a lot of fans and a big history.. I’m very happy to be here to help the team.”

Sokratis is another recruited player from this summer that ticks the ‘experienced’ box. With Stephane Lichtsteiner also in the 30 and over bracket and with heaps of top flight and international experience, It would seem Arsenal’s new boss is focusing on making an immediate impact, rather than looking to making a splash in the future.

It is also a big plus, as we have all been able to see we need a steady hand at the back with leadership qualities – especially when the ship is rocking. With both Lichtsteiner and Sokratis in the backline, we will have that reassuring influence that we have been wanting for quite some time.

With Laurent Koscielny out until at least December, it gives Calum Chambers and Sokratis time to gel and forge what could be an impregnable bedrock. The Greek defender can also help his Greek compatriot who shone briefly toward the end of last season and is another Sven Mislintat recruit – Konstandinos Mavropanos.

Sokratis ‘ main strength is his physicality, and his obsessive desire for clean sheets, which sees him put his body on the line when the pressure is on – something he will expect from his teammates. He is also half decent in the air at the back and on set-pieces, although his goal ratio is hardly prolific, with only eight goals in nearly 200 appearances for Dortmund, Bremen and AC Milan.

Our new recruit will give us immediate resources at the back and could be an astute signing and a valuable player for our defence, who sorely needed a player of his stature in some hairy moments last season.

Welcome to Arsenal, our new Number 5 – Sokratis!

The Ozil Agenda

World Cup coverage of Germany’s downfall and the continuation of the Champions Curse centred mainly on one man.

Was this just? With Loew’s team falling way short of the standard that is expected, was one man really responsible? Or was it the media having an agenda that garners the most engagement?

No domestic football means a real shortage of actual football to generate headlines, and it means that with less news, the quality of stories coming from the mainstream media is watered down a tad.

A great example of this is the lines zoning in on a certain Mesut Ozil. The player that journo’s love to write about. His lackadaisical mannerisms are manna from heaven, and it is easy to wrap stories around this, painting a picture of an entitled enigma, a player who rarely puts in a shift, and his injury woes toward the end of the season were illustrated to look like the German was taking a break rather than attempting to recover from a back injury.

At the time, a large majority of us questioned Ozil’s absence. An abrupt omission from the squad in the last few games of the season did raise some eyebrows, but his back problem was confirmed by both Arsene Wenger and Joachim Loew, and Ozil was forced to take it easy in the run up to the World Cup.

Ozil in action for Germany's ill-fated defence of the World Cup

Ozil’s recent poor form though, is now being used as a stick to beat the playmaker, and recent TV coverage of Germany’s loss to South Korea had German fans actually blaming Ozil for their country’s early exit.

Radio stations, newspapers, websites, all have shone the light of blame on Ozil, his petulant behaviour and failure to exert his influence on proceedings are the sack that has been flung over Ozil and used to chuck him out to sea.

The thing is though, is that Ozil performed his job against South Korea, and he did it very well.

One key stat is the purest evidence of this, and one that was hidden from the majority, for fear of destroying the shroud of blame that currently hangs over Ozil.

The German number 10 is the creator, he is on the pitch to make chances.

Well, he made more chances in the loss versus South Korea, than any player in the entire World Cup had made so far.

That’s right. The underperforming, misfiring misfit that is Ozil, hung out to dry by all and sundry, made more opportunities for his team than any player at the entire tournament had made in total.

Yet Ozil was the reason Germany limped out.

Every piece of visual coverage that looked at Germany’s losses to both Mexico and South Korea went predominantly with an image of a tired-looking Ozil. His image attached to the misfortunes of his national side.

Forget Mats Hummels, who seemed to forget he was a defender in all 3 games. Forget Manuel Neuer, who has only just returned from serious injury and his insistence on playing in midfield cost Germany their second goal.

Forget about Khedira, Boateng, Timo Werner, Mario Gomez. These players were severely under-par, and yet not one finger points at them and demands they face the baying mobs.

No, because their face doesn’t fit the agenda. Mesut Ozil bashing gets headlines, clicks, calls on the radio show. When Ozil gets lambasted, then engagement levels go up.

It can be the only reason for it, given Ozil performed way above what he was given scant credit for.

Then there was the reports that Ozil suffered racial abuse from his own fans. From World Cup hero and Germany’s Player of the Year on many occasions, to derided zero, now not worth an iota of support.

It’s hard to think of another player right now that suffers in the same way. Is this targeting of Mesut simply down to his lack of emotion? If so, there are other players who come across like an automaton on the pitch and in interviews, yet they don’t suffer in the same way. Is it his effortless style? Because his neck veins don’t rise to the surface while straining every sinew?

The naysayers point out the 2-1 win over Sweden when Ozil was dropped. They say that this shows that Joachim Low was carrying Ozil, and as soon as the number 10 came back into the side, they lost again.

Well, anyone who watched Germany versus South Korea could testify that Ozil wasn’t to blame.

The whole team were utterly abject.

So, as Gooners, retain some common sense. We should be glad Ozil will at least now get some rest before what is sure to be a huge season for Arsenal. We should back our man. He could do with the support. Who knows, it could just pay off.

World Cup – Who’s Your Money On?

Now the Premier League is over, we need our fix.

What are we going to do to provide our football buzz?

Thankfully, there’s the small matter of a World Cup taking place less than a month away to sate our withdrawal symptoms.

Like footballing methadone, the World Cup will fill the gap in our lives as we go cold turkey from a lack of Premier League action. The World Cup is a festival of football that will provide daily thrills and spills, but how can we replicate the drama of watching our beloved clubs do battle?

Let’s face it, aside from the few England matches that will take place before the inevitable Last16/Quarter Final defeat, there will be plenty of action, but not enough to really make you care who exits and who carries on toward the famous trophy and the potential to be World Champions.

Spicing it up with a wager always helps.

I’ve consulted stats, a concise world cup betting guide, and the FIFA rankings to gauge who will be the teams to back with your hard-earned dough – or alternatively – just to win points with your mates and make you look like the ultimate football nerd.

Here are the teams who could pull up trees in Russia:

Croatia

The Croats have Nigeria, Argentina and debutants Iceland in their Group and it’s fair to say that they’ll give top spot a run for its money.

They have AC Milan’s Vrsaljko in defence, but it is in midfield that they are near unrivalled.

Inter Milan’s Brozovic, Real’s Kovacic, the electric Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic who plays for Barca and then the jewel on the crown is Luka Modric of Real. Up top they have Juve’s Mario Mandzukic to profit from the plethora of chances too.

If they can avoid the big guns at the Last16 stage, then a Semi-Final spot beckons at least – much like France 98.

Germany

The Germans are the holders, have continuity with the retention of Joachim Loew as Manager, and much of the World Cup winning squad is still present.

They have liberal sprinklings of brilliance throughout. Mesut Ozil, Mario Goetze, Marco Reus, Toni Kroos, Jerome Boateng, Leroy Sane, Julien Draxler, Joshua Kimmich, Timo Werner, Ilkay Gundogan and the safe hands of Manuel Neuer to compliment this star-studded squad.

That is just the tips of the talent, and the bench for Germany will be nearly as strong as the first eleven. Whoever wins the tournament will have to get past the Germans, who always represent in the latter stages.

France

There have been recent signs that Les Bleus have been on the recovery path. A whole new squad, filled with electric young players, has given manager Didier Deschamps a few selection headaches, but what a choice to have.

There’s the record-breaking Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi, Antoine Griezmann, Samuel Umtiti, Ousmane Dembele, Nabil Fekir – and some of these may not even make the final cut!

Whatever the side that rolls up in Russia, know that France qualified quite easily for the tournament, and will take some beating in the knockout stages.

Argentina

This may be the team to back. Always blessed with a squad to be jealous over, the South Americans have failed to show in a World Cup since a certain Diego Maradona lit up the stage.

That’s what makes them a great punt for your money. Most will be expecting another Quarter-Final exit, but this year may just be their year.

They have the most fearsome attack in the world, with Lionel Messi, Paolo Dybala, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Carlos Tevez making up the front line. With Man City’s Nicolas Otamendi and United’s Marcos Rojo in defence, they will be well armed to deal with opponents too.

The biggest change though? They have Jorge Sampaoli as coach. The former Chile man was hot property before deciding to take charge of Argentina, and if they make it to the final, they’ll come up against holders Germany.

There are plenty of other contenders too. Spain and Brazil will be looking to lift the trophy again, and Belgium have perhaps the strongest squad in the tournament.

It makes for a mouth-watering prospect.

So who’s your money on?

Arsenal Vs FC Koln – Europa League Preview

Our first step into the Europa League feels a little like the League Cup, but with a little extra spice.

Every year, the Coca-Cola/Rumbelows/Milk/Carling/Carabao Cup represents the opportunity for fans to see the next generation of our team, at a reasonable price for once.


For many seasons we have seen some incredible things performed by kids who dream of making it onto the biggest level, and us dipping our toes into europe’s second-tier competition means another chance for these kids to shine a little brighter.









The first game in our group stage sees us welcome FC Koln to The Emirates. The German club had a great season last year, but this year sees the Cologne team struggling badly. After three games, they currently sit bottom of the Bundesliga, with no points and just one goal scored.


Former fan favourite Lukas Podolski hails from the club, and the tattoo he sports of the Koln club crest shows his allegiance. The man with the hammer for a shot brings back happy memories for most, but he will not be torn in this match as a fan.


Does their poor form mean we can take the foot off the gas a little? We all know what our team plays like when we do that. For Arsenal, there is no middle ground. We either play awfully or we play teams off the park, so we must go into this game intent on three points. The Europa League may not be our desired level of competition, but we should be looking to win it, especially after years of pain in Europe.


We also have the chance to blood our kids more than in previous years. Usually, when we get dumped out of the League Cup it means our kids must bide their time until next season, but this group stage and the fixture congestion that comes with it means that our kids may well have to come of age if we are to progress and also keep our Premier League aims firmly in focus.


Reiss Nelson and Jack Wilshere are two names that should go straight into the lineup, but for varying reasons.


For Nelson, the youngster has been banging on the door for selection ever since our summer friendly games, and he has begun this term in the Under-23’s in blistering form – winning the August Player of the Month award. His trickery, ball control and eye for goal means he must be given a shot in the Europa League to gauge whether this is either where he belongs or if he needs more nurturing.


Jack is a conundrum. He hardly set the world alight after opting to join Bournemouth on loan last season, and since returning from the Vitality stadium inevitably injured, he has been fighting to get fit again. Now only match sharpness is needed, and what better way to attain this than the Europa League? Plus, our central midfield is hardly setting the world alight right now – a fit and firing Wilshere could make a huge difference to our team. This is a huge gamble though. For now, let us just see if he can stay fit for a few weeks.


The team should have a sprinkling of youth mingled with fringe players who have seen precious little gametime this season. Eddie Nketiah, Jo Willock and Ainslie Maitland-Niles can expect some minutes, as well as Calum Chambers, Theo Walcott, David Ospina and Alex Iwobi.


What of Alexis though?


The Chilean has recovered from his abdominal injury, but now seeks the last 5% he needs to be fully firing. Alexis may well play in this game, and instead of being swapped out for the following game at Chelsea on Sunday like the rest of the team probably will, Sanchez could stay in the team. It makes sense to get him flying as quickly as possible, and then play him as much as possible with an exit looking nailed on. Let us make the most of him whilst he is here.


FC Koln will be looking to play it tight and sneak away with a point most likely, especially with their season being worse than ours right now. No form means they need something, anything, to latch onto. They have some good players and last season showed they merit inclusion in Europe, but we must hurt them as they lay prone on the floor. We cannot afford to give anyone a second of recovery, we simply aren’t playing well enough.


Hopefully the players Arsene Wenger picks will go hell for leather to prove they are worthy of more minutes. that is the benefit of a packed squad, and this game is the stage in which they can show what they are made of.


So, for the first time, Thursday will see the The Emirates lit up for the Europa League. Let us all hope we have a fairly decent crowd and that our players put in a performance which is worthy of the badge.


Predicted Lineup – Ospina, Holding, Mertesacker, Chambers, Debuchy, Wilshere, Elneny, Nelson, Iwobi, Walcott, Alexis


Predicted Scoreline – Fingers crossed, 3-0 to The Arsenal.

Grass Is Greener For Gnabry

Serge Gnabry left our club in the summer of 2016. It appeared to be a brave, perhaps foolish move on the part of the youngster in a bid to gain more first team experience. He was on the fringes of the team at Arsenal, but this wasn’t enough for the ambitious German.

A quick look at his career whilst in London appears to justify Gnabry’s boldness in his career move however. Five years were spent attempting to break through into Arsene Wenger’s first team plans, but the winger made just ten appearances in all that time. 

A loan move to West Brom only exacerbated his woes in England, as Baggies boss Tony Pulis had nothing but disdain for Gnabry’s talents, using him less than sparingly and this set back any plans Gnabry had on pushing on.

There were a few who lamented the youngster’s transfer back to Germany, but there were precious few who predicted the immediate impact he would make in his first season back in his homeland with Werder Bremen. 

His new club are currently as I write, level on points with the threshold of the Bundesliga dropzone. Bremen fans are understandably in low spirits, but Gnabry is providing a spark that the rest of the Werder squad seem unable to. 

Ten goals in 21 games as I write represents an excellent goal ration, especially for a wideman rather than a striker. When you take into account how young Gnabry is – the German is still only 21 years old – then his blistering season appears even better. Gnabry has exploded onto everyone’s consciousness, including German coach Jogi Low.

Arsenal had fair warning about what potential Gnabry had. The Gunners were given a timely reminder of what a precious commodity they had in their ranks just weeks before Gnabry was allowed to leave. 

Gnabry was part of the Silver medal winning German football team in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Gnabry was a vital part of the eleven and ended the tournament as joint top scorer. Gnabry couldn’t do much more to show Wenger and the club he was ready to jump into the team. Instead, Gnabry opted to leave. . 

Our club are obviously struggling at present, with the Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich only compounding the misery around our malaise this campaign. Could Gnabry have changed things if he were still on the scene? 

His dynamism appears to be sorely missed and a weapon we could have really utilised, but instead we get to see his talents on a different stage. 

There were reports that Gnabry had a buyback clause in his contract, inserted via a request from Arsenal as a condition of his sale. If this was the case, his move to Bayern Munich burns just a little. 

Now that Gnabry has decided to leave Bremen after just one season to move to the giants in Munich, this whole fiasco leaves a bitter taste, and yet another talented player has swapped their Arsenal shirt for another club. 

Spotlight on Ozil Brighter than Most

Published on Arsenal Mania.

Football has changed inexorably in the last decade. It has made the sport far more popular as access to every singular movement of a player is now accessible with a solitary click. Social networks provide ample platform for opinions, ideas and highlights to get an airing – rightly or wrongly. 

Along with the opportunity for every fan to have their say and for everything that occurs on the pitch to be viewed from a plethora of angles, the money involved in the sport has also transformed football as we knew it. 

The Premier League now attracts the finest exponents of football, be that players or managers. They come to these shores lured by the lucre and as a result, the heat of competition rises notch by notch. Every single game now carries more significance than before, as final standings mean more money, and better performances by the players also means more moolah. It’s a cash-fest.

Money unfortunately makes the world go round, and football is no different. Just look at the Chinese Super League in the last year for the purest of proof.Arsenal have not escaped this all-enncompassing money-malaise, and the club is a tightly run business with revenue streams rising to prominence alongside results on the pitch.

With the rude health Arsenal are in, it has allowed the Gunners to flash the cash a little. Granit Xhaka, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have all arrived at the club in recent years, and their transfer fees – whilst not record-breaking in the face of flagrant spending by others – still means that these flagship signings are expected to illuminate the stadium with their excellence. 

A judge of their worth is often made within a few games, such is the fickle nature of some. Pundits often court controversy which only serves to exacerbate readers and listeners and also greases the wheels of their own brand. It is self-serving, but it is where football is right now. 

Mesut Ozil is one who has seen his every languid move scrutinised by all and sundry. The German World Cup winner seemed to deal with the intense attention on his performances for the majority of his Arsenal career, but this season has seen a dip in his displays, and the concentration of eyes on Ozil has now become a maelstrom of ridicule, doubt and fierce judgment.

Does Ozil warrant this? He is still Arsenal’s record purchase and has been touted as one of the worlds best playmakers. When he has been on song, he has exhibited the deftest of touches and vision only matched by the Hubble Telescope. His high’s are so lofty that any fall will contrast starkly.

Ozil is also suffering from a loss of form. He isn’t merely on a plateau, he is well below what he is expected to do. This is undeniable, but does Ozil cop it a little worse than others?

Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva have at times this season gone missing. Silva especially, for games at a time, can produce no end product in terms of goals and assists. Yet, do they dominate back pages? Do their sub-par performances earn hours of talk on radio and TV?

Eden Hazard is a prime example. Last season he was a passenger for 35 games of Chelsea’s mediocre season – and the backlash from him giving Chelsea precious little bang for their buck pales into comparison when placed alongside the weekly reaction regarding our German enabler.

The one decisive factor regarding Ozil’s dip, is the loss of Santi Cazorla. When the Spaniard was fit and in the team, Ozil was firing away goals and laying chances on a plate with high frequency. Since Cazorla has been injured however, Ozil has had to shift his role to get the amount of ball he needs. Mesut Ozil and his assets of mass destruction can nulify any team – just look at his performances against Bayern last season and Chelsea this season – but he needs Santi there to transition defence to attack.

Ozil is the surgery knife, but Santi is the handle. Without him, Ozil is severely hampered.

Ozil’s class is undeniable, but we should be able to criticise when he is off of his game. There is a line in the sand though, where constructive criticism becomes lambasting to keep in with the rest. It’s peer pressure amongst pundits. 

A retrospective look at what has been written and said by ‘experts’ would help, so they could see that it really has become a witch-hunt. Especially when you consider his positional brethren who escape the flak on a regular basis.

Ozil deserves both sides of what the spotlight brings, but who could blame him if he departs? 

Top 20 Managers to Possibly Replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal?

Originally posted in The Sport Review

The winds of change are blowing at The Emirates. Arsene Wenger, who has been in charge of Arsenal since 1996, has so far refused to confirm where his future may lie after this current season ends in May.


The French manager is under severe scrutiny, after finally being able to assemble a squad capable of challenging for honours in the last few years, he has been unable to recreate the glories of old in the first decade of his tenure. It seems the old magic has been lost.


Wenger also appears to have lost a large chunk of the support in the stands too. Protests and marches have taken place in objection to Wenger continuing in his capacity as manager, and this season has offered no respite.


With the Gunners out of the Champions League places and yet again failing to make the Quarter-Finals of the same competition, speculation has been rife regarding a possible successor to the Arsenal managerial throne.










Many names have been touted, but here are twenty of the best candidates to lead Arsenal out of the doldrums should Wenger abdicate his position:


20 – Luciano Spalletti

Roma Manager

The Italian started his coaching career the hard way, bringing lowly Empoli up two divisions to Serie A. He eventually earned a move to Roma after a successful spell at Udinese, and a Manager of the Year Award was just reward for turning the Roma team around. He has other experience from different leagues after five years with Zenit St Petersburg, but he has since returned to the Stadio Olimpico – and has seen his team produce the only credible challenge to runaway Serie A leaders Juventus.


19 – Rafa Benitez

Newcastle United Manager

The Spaniard, when in charge of Liverpool, always showed Wenger ample respect when their respective teams duelled. Benitez has helmed some of the biggest teams in the game – Valencia, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea – and he looks like carrying Newcastle straight back into the top flight. Benitez would relish a return to the larger spotlight, and the ideals he shares with Wenger would make him a man that could come in with the minimum of adaptation time.


18 – Pai Dardai

Hertha Berlin Manager

The Hungary-born man may be inexperienced, but he is showing that his tactical acumen is spot on. Having spent over a decade with Hertha in his playing days, upon retiring he took a position as youth coach. Dardai has also taken charge of his country, before taking the reins at Hertha. The team from Berlin under his stewardship have climbed up to fifth place with a moderate squad, and the relatively young Dardai deserves the credit. His firm grasp on the modern game gives him a shout.


17 – Carlo Ancelotti

Bayern Munich Manager

The eyebrow-arching Italian has won it all in the domestic game, and his accumulated experience means he has much to offer. If Arsenal are planning long term, then Ancelotti could provide the perfect two to three year platform for their intended target to bed in. One thing Ancelotti can guarantee is success and making sure his teams are in contention. His short spell at Chelsea means he is accustomed to the pressures of the Premiership too.


16 – Laurent Blanc

PSG Manager

The Frenchman had a glittering playing career, and his managerial career has gotten off to a great start too. At his first club, he led Bordeaux to a Ligue Un and Coupe de la Ligue double. He also led them to a Quarter-Final in the Champions League. He also took charge of his national team, before being offered the lucrative position of Paris Saint Germain boss. He has led the capital-based team to three consecutive titles, as well as five domestic cups. The Frenchman is now a free agent, which would make negotiations a tad easier!


15 – Joachim Low

Germany Manager

The shaggy-haired German coach has led his country to World Cup glory. He was an integral part of the German revolution which began in the early 2000’s which saw all levels of German football adhere to the same playing model. The tactics have worked, and Low continues to lead his country to domination. His team play in the same way as Arsenal, and he would ensure the Arsenal Way is maintained. After so many years in international football, a new challenge would be a tough choice to turn down.


14 – Luis Enrique

Barcelona Manager

Enrique oversaw one of the most successful seasons in Barcelona’s history, when the Catalan club won the treble in 2014-15. They also won the Double in the next season. He recently announced he would be departing Barcelona at the end of this current season, which appears to be perfect timing. enrique has maintained he needs a rest from the pressures of being a manager, but could he be tempted to come to London?


13 – Dennis Bergkamp

Assistant Manager of Ajax

As a player, Bergkamp is heralded by Arsenal fans as perhaps the greatest man to have pulled on the shirt in recent times. The Dutchman opted to return home to begin his managerial career, but would a return ‘home’ lure Dennis to take the Arsenal hotseat? His lack of experience may harm his prospects, but his choice could prove to be a very popular one within Arsenal fan ranks.


12 – Dragan Stojkovic

Guangzhou R and F

The Serbian played for eight years at Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan, and he played under current Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. Wenger has touted Stojkovic as an excellent candidate for manager previously, but his lack of European managerial experience may cost him. However, if Wenger has any say in the process, Stojkovic may just be the surprise option.


11 – Julian Nagelsmann

TSG Hoffenheim Manager

The 29yr old German coach dramatically saved Hoffenheim from relegation last season against all odds, and he has continued to impress and defy the doubters. His side currently sit in 4th position in the Bundesliga, and his innovative tactics and relative success at a modest club are attracting suitors. Nagelsmann would be a high risk choice as he hasn’t yet managed in the top flight for a whole season, but if he earns Hoffenheim a Champions League spot, Nagelsmann will be a wanted man.


10 – Giovanni Van Bronckhurst

Feyenoord Manager

Van Bronckhurst has returned Feyenoord back to where they belong after many years in the shadows of the Eredivisie. They currently sit top of the Dutch league, and the Dutchman is responsible for the turnaround. Van Bronckhurst had a short spell as an Arsenal player, and he had a successful playing career playing under some great coaches. The accumulated experience has helped him as a manager, and if he wins the rotterdam club their first title for over a decade, he will be on the shortlist for sure.


9 – Eusebio Sacristan Mena

Real Sociedad Manager

Mena has allowed Sociedad a period of sustainability, slowly steadying the ship after many peaks and troughs. His managerial style comes from Barcelona after firstly performing the assistant role in the early 2000’s, before taking charge of Barcelona B from 2011 to 2015. Sociedad are his club now, and they are in 5th place as this is written – only one point behind Diego Simeone’s Atletico in 4th. Mena could bring the good times back to Arsenal.


8 – Eddie Howe

Bournemouth Manager

Howe has worked miracles at Bournemouth. The modest South Coast club have not only reached the Premier League for the first time, but under his stewardship, they have comfortably retained their status in the top flight. They are struggling at this moment in time, but the exciting brand of football he espouses is in line with Arsenal. Howe may lack the years of hardened competition in Europe, but Howe could be the long term option that Arsenal crave.


7 – Lucien Favre

Nice Manager

The Swiss manager started off in his native country, before making the short journey to the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach. He was a success at both clubs, in both cases rescuing them from the relegation places and steering them to the Champions League. He has since taken over Nice, and yet again he is overseeing major change with Nice challenging for Ligue Un against more established teams like Monaco and PSG. Favre is accustomed to tight budgets and his brand of fluid football and unearthing talent is exactly what Arsenal need.


6 – Ralph Hassenhuttl

RB Leipzig Manager

The Austrian coach has earned his stripes. He has managed in all tiers of the Bundesliga, and his last club – Ingolstadt – have risen from the second tier to the Bundesliga under his leadership. He has since moved to cash-rich RB Leipzig, and they seem to be the only credible challengers to Bayern Munich’s domination. Hassenhuttl has changed the way Leipzig play, and has utilised the unique talents at his disposal to engineer a counter-attacking team that are resolute as well as lethal. It is unclear who pulls the strings at the club – whether it be Hassenhuttl or Sporting director Ralf Rangnick – but the Austrian Manager is on the radar.


5 – Leonardo Jardin

AS Monaco Manager

The previous managers of Monaco have proven that cash is not the sole reason for success, but since taking over at the club, Leonardo Jardin has taken Monaco to where they need to be to ensure the millions have not been wasted. The team from the tiny principality are top of Ligue Un and have a gap between them and PSG who have ruled France’s top league for the last three seasons. Jardin’s style has earned plaudits, and his recruitment policy has found some real gems. Jardin could revolutionise Arsenal, and his team’s display in the Champions League against Manchester City recently was the best advertisement for what he brings – fast paced, attack-minded football.


4 – Thomas Tuchel

Borussia Dortmund Manager

Tuchel has matched previous Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp’s path in management. Taking Mainz to the top flight and a  European spot, he was courted by some big German clubs before opting for Dortmund after six years with Mainz. He has lost only 13 games from his 91 Bundesliga matches so far, and he has replaced some players with promising young talent. Tuchel has maintained BVB’s trademark pressing style which he inherited from Klopp, but Tuchel could do with some success on the domestic front before making the leap to the big time.


3 – Jorge Sampaoli

Sevilla Manager

Sampaoli will be forever revered as a hero in Chile, after engineering back to back Copa America triumphs for the South American nation. Sampaoli has since joined Sevilla, and he has allowed the club to make the leap from Europa League to Champions League comfortably. They are also challenging for La Liga, in the mix with Barcelona and Real Madrid. Sampaoli is unflinching in his demand for 100% from his players, but he also manages to make the most from every percent. Sampaoli is one of the favourites for the Barcelona job, but Sampaoli can pick his next club from a host of offers.


2 – Diego Simeone

Atletico Madrid Manager

Simeone was a winner as a player, and as a manager this has been the same. He returned Atletico to the top of Spanish football and won La Liga in 2013-14. He also tasted success as a manager in South America, so his pedigree is one of accomplishment. The man known as ‘El Cholo’ in Spain is labelled as a counter-attacking specialist, but that would be doing a great disservice to his teams. He is adept at adapting his teams to the demands of every opponent, and can switch from possession football to defensively minded in an instant. Simeone has also reacted to losing key personnel by replacing them seamlessly. He has to be a frontrunner for the job.


1 – Massimiliano Allegri

Juventus Manager

Allegri has reportedly already started English lessons as he courts the Arsenal position, and the North London club would be getting a brilliant manager. Starting off in the lower reaches of Italian football, he eventually found his way to Cagliari and pushed them to their best ever season. This paved the way to AC Milan, and he duly won them their first Serie A title for seven years. He then moved to Juventus after four years at Milan, and he enjoyed instant silverware, winning the Double in his first season, followed by the same the very next campaign. Allegri has purchased shrewdly, created teams of strength and pace, and is as thorough in his preparations as anyone could be. The Italian has emerged as the favourite for the Arsenal hotseat, and it is easy to see why. 

Bayern 5-1 Arsenal: Champions League Ends for Gunners

The briefest flicker of hope that Arsenal could manifest success this season was vanquished in nine brutal second half minutes, as Bayern ruthlessly exposed the Gunners wounds.

Six attempts to navigate past the first knockout stage in Europe’s premiere competition now looks to extend to seven years, after the Germans efficiently maximised the gaping hole in the Arsenal backline to effectively end the Gunners hopes once again.

With our squad the strongest it has been in many a year, the disappointing nature of our exits in recent years would not hold sway this season. We expected to hold our own against the giants of Munich. We had every right to expect a close battle.

We got just that in the first half. The home side expectedly dominated possession, and were enjoying the home support as they sprayed balls around merrily. Arsenal stuck gamely to their task though. David Ospina was tested early but in the eleventh minute, Arsenal’s cup keeper could do nothing to stop Bayern taking the lead.

Arjen Robben – the winger who comes with a script that all defenders fail to read – cut in and let rip from outside the box. His effort was sumptuous and it arced into the top corner to reward his side for their possession.

The game continued in the same vein. Ancelotti’s side probing and passing and Wenger’s team attempting to break up their play. They slowly became more active on proceedings, and in the thirtieth minute, Arsenal had a precious away goal.

Laurent Koscielny was first to a loose ball after a set-piece, and Mats Hummels attempt to get the ball was a second slower than the French defender. The referee pointed to the spot, and Alexis stepped up to take it.

Alexis had been the architect of Arsenal’s best moments and he struck the penalty low, but Manuel Neuer was equal to it. He parried it out and Alexis was there to at least regain possession. To all it looked as if the chance had been lost, but under pressure, he swivelled to shoot low and into the goal.

A huge goal. This could have swung the tie, and although Bayern had a few chances before half time, Arsenal had done so well to stay with them. 

The second half was a different story.

Laurent Koscielny had been a busy man and when he was forced off through injury, the sight of Gabriel taking his place would have sent an ice-cold chill through all Gooners. The Brazilian has a reputation for rashness, and the first nine minutes of his cameo would see Arsenal’s Euro dreams die for another year.

The three goals were not solely on Gabriel’s shoulders I hasten to add, but the facts speak for themselves. Three minutes after coming on, Robert Lewandowski had his customary goal – his 24th in 30 games so far this campaign – by outleaping Shkodran Mustafi who was caught under the leaping Pole.

Another three minutes, and Bayern had three. Lewandowski turned provider, as he dropped off and dragged Gabriel with him. The space left by Gabriel was taken up by Thiago, who ran in unopposed to pick up the striker’s backheel and finish low past Ospina.

Three minutes again passed, and another goal ended all hope. It was Thiago again, and his shot from outside the box came through a throng of players. It took a nick from Granit Xhaka and it hurtled past a stricken David Ospina who had been deceived by the deflection.

The gulf between the sides was apparent now. Bayern had upped the gears and Arsenal looked absolutely shellshocked.

The rest of the half saw the home team look to further embarrass Wenger and his side. Repeated chances came to them, but Ospina was the only man who looked to have any fight left in him.

The painful ending came though, as second half sub Thomas Muller grabbed the fifth which means Arsenal once again need a miracle to escape the Last16. Familiar territory.

Here are some observations from the game which appeared telling:

Our defence needs Koscielny

After Laurent went off, we capitulated. It was perhaps the most emphatic evidence of what he brings to our team. Mustafi looked bewildered without his partner, and Gabriel has shown no improvement from when he first joined. Of course, these are not regular partners, but there can be no excuses after this. At some point, it is just not good enough. Debuchy would’ve been better than Gabriel.

Ozil a passenger

The German playmakers form shows no sign of returning. His touch was errant and his ability to pick out a run was absent again. His effort was there and he ran plenty, but the reason why we bought him is not for his stamina. Worrying signs, and we will need him back to his best if we are to finish above tottenham.

Coquelin and Xhaka were easily bossed.

The central midfield area was dominated by Bayern, and at times the resistance was not present. Xhaka was outnumbered and Coquelin was not at the races. The Frenchman at his best is one of the best ball-winners around, but he is severely limited. Our central midfield options all of a sudden look barren.

Alexis and his sulking 

The Chilean was our best player for the majority, but his demanding, gesticulating and tantrums are becoming old and trying on the patience. We understand how he wants to win, how we wants the ball. When it doesn’t happen though, his reactions are not the sign of a player who is happy with things. If we are to progress, he is vital. Can any of us say with any confidence that he will stay after another season of underwhelming results?

Arsene’s pattern

This game is where Arsene’s errors came to the fore with no excuses left. The squad is strong, injuries were not a huge factor, and we had home advantage in the second leg. When are we able to expect to challenge with the higher echelons? Arsene may have been let down by his team at times, but a large portion of the pointing finger must fall on Wenger. He looked dejected at the final whistle, but we came up short yet again. Our limitations are there for all to see. It is painful to see, but Wenger must realise that this squad he has selected over the years, is simply underachieving. 

I am not writing any more about this game. It feels like a watershed moment. Something has to give.  This depressing exit was on the cards before a ball was kicked as we had seen it before. Many times.

Some may blame the board. Some may blame the players and some blame Wenger. Regardless of who is the main culprit – this is not good enough.

Mesut Ozil – An Endangered Species.

The constant comparisons, documentaries and mentions of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are understandable, if a little grating.

Both players have graced the world stage with their inimitable presences, and have obliterated records with each season that passes. Driven by their own standards – and a little competition from each other – they have deservedly been labelled as the finest of our generation.

It is their goals though, that have seen them placed atop pedestals so high. Each campaign has seen them both plunder 40,50 goals and it is these numbers, in our stat-fuelled game as it stands today, that has allowed them to break off from their rivals and see them placed in their own unique category.

Some players specialise in goals. Some have their specialist subject in destroying midfielders. Others are adept at stemming wave after wave of attacks. 

Then there is Mesut Ozil.

If the German were to be part of a survey, he would not fit any previous mould. He would be found in the box marked ‘other.’

In todays game, our number 11 cannot be compared to any other player. He is crudely categorised as a playmaker, but anyone who has seen him play will realise he is much more than just our own Golden Hen, forcing out assist after assist. 

He is a mercurial ninja, floating between dimensions. Seeking only the right moment to strike, his singular motivation is to ensure he allows his team the best chance to ensure damage to the opposition. 

If the ball gravitates toward him in a deep position, then even a simple ten yard pass will have gone through his own mental collander, ruling out all other options and making sure it is the most efficient choice. 

Every decision he makes, when you take a retrospective look at his performance, is normally the correct one. All of these mental gymnastics his brain performs is done in a sliver of time that most would find difficult to comprehend. Only a small pocket of players are capable of utilising this skill on the pitch, but they still lack the other weapons at Ozil’s disposal.

As a ninja, Ozil’s quick thinking and vision are his katana – his go-to weapon. His sidearm though, is his awareness. The very same awareness that the great Dennis Bergkamp possessed. It allows Ozil to know where his teammates are, and find them no matter where they are. His technical ability means that if they are 50-60 yards away, he will still be able to produce a ball so perfectly weighted, that it will find its intended target even if they are on the run, allowing them to take possession easily.

Nothing is left to chance. What really sets our German apart though, is the effortless nature in which he performs such tasks. His roll of the body to outwit N’Golo Kante in our 3-0 demolition of Chelsea to start the move for the 3rd goal – which he duly scored – looked so easy and smooth that it looked like anyone could have done it.

He has the Karate Kid factor. We all saw the films, with Danny LaRusso being taught to paint fences and wax cars in a roundabout method of capturing the movement required for basic karate moves, but at the end of each film – didn’t we all try the crane kick? Didn’t we all think we could be karate champion? 

When we watch Ozil, it is the same. Everything he does looks so simple, but trying to recreate such things as a lowly human is nigh-on impossible. Ozil hails from a different plain, one that isn’t exactly overpopulated.

David Silva, Kevin DeBruyne, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Christian Eriksen and Cesc Fabregas are regularly stood next to Ozil and their numbers are studied and scrutinised in an effort to find a parallel with our quietly spoken genius. 

They may have the vision of Ozil. Some may even have his work rate. A few may yet possess his touch. None of them though, have his nonchalant manner in performing the ridiculously difficult. None have the ability to begin moves from any position, even when playing below par. 

Ozil is an instigator. His mind is a constant whirring chess simulation, twisting the board to all angles in an attempt to see a chink in the enemies armour. To find the smallest gap to slide his blade into, thus causing damage on a massive scale.

That is why Mesut Ozil is unique. Held up against the players who are always compared to him, he stands above them, as he cannot be merely labelled.

He is a diamond of many facets, each one allowing the other to shine brighter. 

He is unique, and we should enjoy every minute he wears our crest. 

Mesut Ozil is an endangered species, but hopefully his presence in training will allow others to glean enough to ensure and maintain a continuation of his kind.