Tag Archives: golden

Smudge – A Striking Dream

Alan Martin Smith earned his way into Gooner folklore in more ways than one.

You think of smudge, you inevitably think of the Miracle of 89, his goal at Anfield early in the second half that provided the platform for the most iconic moment in English football at the time.

However, the man who was the perfect foil for any striker was much more than this halcyon moment in Gunners history.

Smith won two Golden Boots in his time in an Arsenal shirt – the top scorer in the top league in England not once but twice. Some achievement.

SMITH

Two titles. Three cups, including his wonderful goal against Parma in the Cup Winners Cup Final in 1994 won us a European title that we had no right to win.

Smith was an expert in the opposition box. He obviously knew where the goal was – he was our top scorer for four consecutive seasons – but he possessed an almost peerless ability in the air. Smith was tall but not so much that he towered above those who battled him. No, the reason Smith invariably won most aerial duels was down to intelligence – and a fantastic leap.

Smudge always jumped at the right time, and it meant he ousted his marker more often than not. How many times did the striker flick on a lofted ball from Lukic or Seaman and the ball found his striking partner or a late runner in midfield such as Rocky, Merson or Thomas?

That brings us to his real skill. One that is often overlooked. Smith created so much for his teammates with his aerial threat. He grabbed his fair share of headed goals, but Smith gave so much more, and that was thanks to his first touch.

On countless occasions, Smith received a ball launched long and high, and he immediately brought the ball to heel with his feet or chest. If the ball was destined for his head, the ball mystically found a teammate. This meant that not only did Smith’s ball control need to be faultless, but he also had to know where his team mates were at all times. His awareness bordered on telepathy at times.

We had a striker that gave us perfect service for eight years. He fitted us perfectly and even when his pace – or lack of – became evident later on – because his first touch and his awareness didn’t need a lightning burst toward goal – he was incredibly useful throughout his time with us, not just in the earlier years.

Smith learned and honed his trade at Leicester, with a certain Mr Lineker at the club too. There were certain similarities between the two – both possessed a knack at arriving at the right time in the box – but it was their playing personalities that matched up neatly. Both had a huge appetite, but didn’t let it consume them with red mist. Lineker and Smith both flew under the radar with referees – Smith was booked once in his entire career, Lineker escaped any bookings from the match official.

That’s quite an incredible statistic, but it may paint a picture of a placid player who cared little for the team. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Smith was instrumental in our team from the moment he arrived in 1987. He left everything on the pitch and his goals, assists and keeping defenders busy was a cornerstone of our trophy success in 89, 91, 93 and 94.

Smith is one of our finest strikers in our illustrious history. A player who was selfless and never once gave us less than his best.

A player who is encased in amber for helping to bring us the best memories.

Thank you Smudge.

Petr Cech Needs to Check Himself – Before He Wrecks Himself

Four Golden Glove Awards is not easily achieved.

It is the watermark of a fabulous career and of the highest talent. 

Petr Cech has amassed every trophy at club level that a player can grab. He is recognised as one of the finest goalkeepers to have graced the Premiership since it began. He has been a flagbearer of consistency for over a decade.

His move across London to Arsenal saw this continue, but a dip in form this season has fired off alarm bells. Cech has dipped before, but it has never lasted for such a long period of time. This season so far has seen the bar which he raised so high himself, loom high above him. He has not been able to replicate what has been the norm for so long.

The standards that he set at Chelsea – and last season with us – when compared to what he has given us this season, is startlingly different. 

For over a decade, Cech was the foundation on which Chelsea began their assault on the Premier League – and then Europe. When any of his teammates dipped in form, there was always a capable understudy waiting in the wings to usurp them in the lineup.

His longevity at Chelsea as their undisputed Number One spells out his supremacy between the sticks. If he did not maintain his levels of excellence, then he would have been unable to record his amount of appearances – and his haul of clean sheets.

Upon joining last season, he became the first goalkeeper to win the Golden Glove award with two different clubs. This was with a defence in front of him which was lambasted by pundits and experts alike.

This season though, there is a contrast in Cech’s performances. Gone is the commanding presence in the box. No longer is he the ever-present reliability which eases defender’s minds. Also, he has been beaten on more than one occasion at his near post by questionable efforts.

He has faced many penalties this season too – and his lackadaisical effort to stop the spot-kicks have been laughable. It appears to many that he is far too slow to get down to the turf, that his height is finally playing against him rather than for him.

Is it age? Cech is 34, and goalkeepers at this age have more than a few years left at their peak at this age, as opposed to outfielders who by this age are approaching their twilight years.

Plus, Cech has put in sporadic displays this season which have shown us he is still capable of his masterful ways. 

So this points us to a dip in form. When players drop their levels and are struggling for purchase, it is conventionally about ten to twelve games that sees them return to their best.

Cech has been underperforming from the start of the season. His regular comments in the media reverberate with leadership qualities, of words of a winner. His actions on the pitch echo the actions of a man who needs a reminder that he is not undroppable.

His understudy, David Ospina, has been performing minor miracles in his role as Cup Keeper. The South American cannot do any more to put pressure on Arsene Wenger to give him a shot as Number One. With Wojicech Szczesny also lighting up Serie A with Roma – Cech should see this as a warning that his form will not do.

Instead, he continues to underwhelm. For a man with such high expectations after a career of glittering moments, Cech is shaming his own record. 

What really underlines Cech’s fall from grace is how his teammates are doing. These players who are capable of brilliant things, are suffering from a lack of consistency which has hampered our campaign this season. Complacency has set in with a few Gunners, and it has seen them put in some shifts which have given opponents a weakness which they can exploit.

Complacency is a asickness that can only be treated with a harsh reminder of their own mortality. Cech needs a spell on the bench to implant the notion that this is not good enough.

Cech is far from finished – but he is letting the side down and himself – which for a habitual winner, is not acceptable. 

Who Will Win the Golden Boot?

With just over half of the season already played out, the pecking order in the Premiership table is starting to take shape. 

The indicators for which sides are the cream rising to the surface, and which are simply floating with no purpose in the middle, are clear to see. These teams grouping near the top of the league are there through superior tactics, a stout rearguard or ample firepower. Even if they have a modest armoury, these clubs will not be sitting in the position they are in without at least some goals.

Goals are the currency on which results are earned, and every team has to pay the price to get into the VIP club – the European places. Without goals in your pocket, you will not get past security.

Chelsea, Arsenal, tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United and even Everton have contenders for the crown of top goalscorer for the season. Whomsoever of these hotshots grabs the accolade, it may just be enough to fire them above their rivals for a very esteemed league position? 

So, who is odds on for the Golden Boot? We look at English Premier Betting at William Hill for a hint at which of these strikers may just give their side an edge in the latter half of the season:




Diego Costa





















The turbulent Brazilian turned Spaniard has apparently turned over a new leaf since Italian coach Antonio Conte has taken over at Chelsea. His 15 goals scored thus far have seen the best of Costa, and his efficient finishing has seen him rise to prominence in Chelsea’s rise to the top of the league. If things continue in this current vein, then Costa will be one of the leading contenders to win the top scorer award. It wouldn’t be Costa without one blot on the copybook, and his recent hiatus from the side was shrouded in mystery amidst rumours of a bust-up with the very coach who has been responsible for returning him to form. What the fallout will be from this is debateable, but Costa is sitting pretty right now. 



Alexis Sanchez












This striker from Chile is on fire. He has been on such form that defenders have no answer for his high jinx. He is currently level on goals with Costa, and has rescued his side on numerous occasions. He is also regarded in the same way by the bookies, as his odds are similar to Costa’s too. Fitness is one thing that Alexis prioritises as well as playing time and that should see him get enough games to grab the goals that keep him in contention. He is also the striker with the most assists in this list. An all-out Action Man.






Zlatan Ibrahimovic
















The giant Swede has continued to bang in the goals after his move from Paris Saint Germain, and his aerial ability and self-belief have given United a life raft in the sea of mediocrity. Jose Mourinho has overseen a run of results which has seen them ride on the coattails of the frontrunners, but fail to make any inroads on the gap between them and the Champions League places. Zlatan has been the difference between points – and no points. He did go through a dry spell, but he is only one goal behind the top two strikers, so it obviously didn’t hamper him and his giant ego too much. 




Harry Kane













This slack-jawed poor annunciator has continued his goalscoring from the previous season, and his team are looking very dangerous. He has also missed a few weeks and is still amongst the hottest of strikers. Kane is profiting from plenty of chances crafted by Delle Alli, Christian Eriksen and their effervescent full-backs. Harry Kane is indeed the real deal and will definitely be amongst the shouts for top scorer, but right now, he is two goals behind Sanchez and Costa. Last seasons top scorer has some work to do.


Romelu Lukaku





















The big Belgian has his detractors, but just like last season he is firing the goals in. The Toffees have been ridiculously inconsistent, but the one thing they have been able to rely on is Lukaku. The big man is surely on the radar of some big clubs, and has 12 goals so far. Even in his teams poorest spell he was still bagging goals, so he cannot be discounted. Last season he finished four goals behind Kane and in third place overall. Can he go two places better?



Sergio Aguero































The Argentinean is four goals behind in the stakes, but only a fool would not consider him. He has missed a large part of the season – four games alone through suspension – but he is still in contention in the face of this. He has the pedigree, but does his team? Man City are stuttering, but he will be forever amongst the goals. If his hamstrings stay healthy, then Aguero will be on the list. Maybe a bit more teamplay may benefit Aguero – he is the only striker on the list who has not registered an assist. 

There are a few others in the running. Jermain Defoe is proving age and playing for Sunderland is not doing him any harm. The 34year old has 12 goals so far. Just imagine if he was playing for a team who created just a little more. Delle Alli has eleven goals to his name as his star burns ever brighter. There is no reason why this youngster cannot continue to plunder as he has done thus far.
These are the runners and riders for the Golden Boot 2016/17.

Who is your money on?