Tag Archives: select

Team of the Decade Part Two

So, our team of the decade is well underway, with Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal comprising our backline.

Now onto our midfield and our attack. Despite our much-vaunted woes during this decade, and our slide away from constant contention, we have still been blessed with many talented players. So picking our best midfield and attack will be no easy task. If you disagree with any choices, let me know – this is very much down to opinion!

 

So, first up, our wingers.

Here’s the pool to choose from:

Theo Walcott

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Tomas Rosicky

Samir Nasri

Andriy Arshavin

Gervinho

Alex Iwobi

Reiss Nelson

Bukayo Saka

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Yossi Benayoun

 

The winners? Theo and Rosicky.

Rosicky

Theo

 

The reason this list isn’t longer? It comes down to the adaptation of the players in the squad. So many times we’ve had midfielders and strikers playing the wide roles, and with the use of 4-2-3-1, the conventional wideman has been replaced by wide forwards.

But the two above are more than deserving. If it weren’t for injury. Both would have an even higher standing amongst the fanbase.

Still, some will point to Walcott’s profligate finishing and lack of end product. Some will point to the meagre amount of games Rosicky played thanks to aforementioned injuries.

The stats don’t lie though. Theo amassed one game shy of 400 games for us, and scored 108 times, with 78 assists. That is nearly a goal involvement every two games – not bad for an inconsistent, one-dimensional player. He was much more than a speed merchant.

Then we come to Tomas. We all adored the little Czech, and for good reason. When free from injury, he would grace the pitch with beautiful touches and instinctive play that added to attacks effortlessly. He still made 248 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 29 times and making 22 assists, but it was the way his style embodied the way we aspired to play that we will remember.

 

Now for the engine room. It has been a bit ropey at times in the centre of the pitch, as the majority of the decade was taken up by a search for an effective defensive presence. Here’s what we have to choose from:

Santi Cazorla

Granit Xhaka

Aaron Ramsey

Jack Wilshere

Mohamed Elneny

Jo Willock

Lucas Torreira

Mesut Ozil

Mikel Arteta

Francis Coquelin

Lassana Diarra

Denilson

Alex Song

Mathieu Flamini

Cesc Fabregas

 

The judges choices? Santi and Aaron.

Cazorla and Ramsey

There were a few here who could have justified their place in the team of the decade. Jack Wilshere’s injuries left his impact far smaller than it should have been, but when fit, he was one of our best. Then there is the enigmatic Ozil, who can go from sublime to ectoplasmic in seconds.

But the chosen two were the most impactful. Ramsey scored 65 goals and registered 65 assists in his 371 games in our colours, and his specialty was scoring in big games. We’ll never forget his FA Cup final winners of 2014 and 2017, and while his midfield play was occasionally errant due to roving forward, he contributed far more than the others on the list – and is a missed player in our current ranks.

Santi is beloved for good reason. His first full season saw him pick up our player of the year award and wreak havoc in the Premier League. With Ozil’s introduction, he had to find another position but such is Santi’s talent, he repurposed himself as a box to box man, and he excelled. Truly two-footed and always played with a smile on his face, Cazorla made 180 appearances, scoring 29 times and making 45 assists.

 

Lastly, we have our strikers.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Eddie Nketiah

Alexandre Lacazette

Lucas Perez

Olivier Giroud

Lukas Podolski

Marouane Chamakh

Chuba Akpom

Yaya Sanogo

Danny Welbeck

 

This is a toughie. Aubameyang is in with a shout as his goal ratio since joining in 2018 is extraordinary. LAcazette’s goal involvement too is pretty impressive and was last season’s POTY. I’ve always had a soft spot for Welbeck and he always put in a shift whenever he played, but the two strikers for our team of the decade are;

Olivier Giroud and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Giroud

Just imagine these two as a pairing. Giroud excelled at incorporating others into our attack and Auba would thrive from the little flick-ons that Giroud specialised in.

Giroud may have sullied his name with his post-Europa League Final exploits, but let’s not forget what he did. 105 goals and 41 assists in 253 Arsenal games – that’s a ratio of a goal involvement every 1.73 games.  His highlight reel is a glorious one too, he scored so many beauties for us.

 

Auba

Auba is the man keeping us afloat right now. 43 goals in just 67 PL games, with 10 assists. That is perilously close to a goal involvement in EVERY game. 18 goals in 33 Europa League games. His goal threat cannot be underestimated and if it weren’t for Auba right now, we would be much further down the table. His instincts are sharp, his contributions are huge, Auba has to be in the team.

 

So, our team of the decade is:

 

Wojciech Szczesny

Bacary Sagna

Per Mertesacker

Laurent Koscielny

Nacho Monreal

Aaron Ramsey

Santi Cazorla

Tomas Rosicky

Theo Walcott

Olivier Giroud

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

 

Not bad.

What do you think? Drop me your shout in the comments below!

#UTA

Team of 2010-2020 Part One

How do you rate an entire decade’s worth of football?

Is it simply the silverware that adorns your shelves that judgment should adhere to?

Or do memorable victories, skilful feats on the pitch that stubbornly cling to your brain, or heroic near-misses also deserve to affect the needle that point toward success?

Now we stand in 2020, how do we look back on 2010-20?

The first overriding thought is transition and the weakening grip of Wenger.

Arsene led the club through some difficult times, but his last years’ were saved by the FA Cup wins that were our sole success during the decade. Poor purchases, an obstinacy when it came to tactics and taking into account our opposition and his own failings led to Arsenal eventually falling out of the habitual top four spot we had grown accustomed to.

That led to Unai Emery, Freddie Ljungberg and our current malaise.

It hasn’t all been a slow slide into mediocrity though.

Can we look back on the players that pulled on the jersey during these years and decide who best represented us during this time?

Let’s try.

So, who makes Up The Arsenal’s Team of the Decade?

First up is our goalkeeper.

The nominations are:

Lukasz Fabianski

David Ospina

Manuel Almunia

Wojciech Szczesny

Petr Cech

Bernd Leno

 

The winner of the gloves is Szczesny.

Szczesny

The Pole played more games during that time than the majority above, and made less high-profile errors. Does his celebrations during one of our NLD wins count toward this decision? You bet.

Of course, his antics off the field were silly at times and lacked professionalism, but Szczesny came through the ranks and was proud to wear the shirt. His talent was beyond question, and the now Juventus Number One is showing what we all knew we had on board, including Wenger.

Still, Leno is looking rather tidy at the moment, it is just his short length of time at the club that is holding him back. Cech was solid but unspectacular and both Ospina and Fabianski were both stuck with high-profile errors that led to a weakening in the structural integrity of the confidence in them.

So Szczesny takes the gloves.

 

What about right-back? We’ve certainly had a few:

Emmanuel Eboue

Bacary Sagna

Mathieu Debuchy

Hector Bellerin

Calum Chambers

The winner? Sagna, and by quite some distance.

Sagna

The reason why this list isn’t longer is because of Sagna. Signed in 2007, the Frenchman was the epitome of reliable and had the novelty value of actually being able to both attack AND defend. He was named in the PFA team of the season in 2010-11 and his consistency was the reason why we never really bought a right-back.

Bellerin has been wonderful for us, but is still maturing. We got the best years from Sagna and if his final ball was just a little better, he would have gone down as one of our Premier League greats. Still he very much deserves a mention. His last season saw him lift his one trophy with us, the FA Cup – and it was a fitting reward for his faithful service.

 

Now comes the centre-backs. This should be a laugh:

 

Laurent Koscielny

Per Mertesacker

Sokratis

Shkodran Mustafi

Rob Holding

Konstandinos Mavropanos

David Luiz

Johan Djourou

Thomas Vermaelen

The winners?

Per and Laurent.

BFG and Kos

They both played more than any other during the decade, they also formed a formidable partnership, with their winning ratio far and above the best since Toure and Campbell.

They both had their own personal highlights – Mertesackier’s swansong in the 2017 FA Cup will always be known as the ‘BFG Final’ and Koscielny becoming our talismanic defender will always be remembered – but together they formed the last strong defence we have seen.

True, Per had the turning circle speed of a glacier and Koscielny was impetuous at the best of times, but their strengths combined to create a wall that always gave us more security.

Well, far more than we currently have…

 

Next, and lastly for this chapter, is left-backs. Who do we have to choose from?

Gael Clichy

Kieran Gibbs

Nacho Monreal

Sead Kolasinac

Kieran Tierney

 

The winner? La Cabra himself.

Premier League - Cardiff City v Arsenal

Monreal truly endeared himself to the Gooner faithful with his high level of display, week in and week out. He filled in at centre-back on many occasions, showing his defensive nous, and Spanish caps well into his 30’s were indicative of his pedigree.

Stamina, expert timing on his many raids down the left flank, Monreal makes us wish that he was five years younger. Now at Real Sociedad, but we have much to thank him for.

An honourable mention to Gibbs too. The youngster pushed through the ranks, was part of the side that won our first cup in nine years with the 2014 FA Cup, and was the dedicated professional, even when on the bench for prolonged periods.

 

Next up is our midfield, but that will be for next week’s blog.

Disagree with my choices? Let me know why!

Keep them peeled for next week!

Until then, #UTA

 

Arsenal and tottenham Combined XI

Published on Arsenal Mania

There is always a fair amount of hype in the build-up to a much-anticipated fixture. The majority of it is to ride the crest of the wave as fans look forward to the game, but some is simply filler designed only to ruffle feathers and guarantee a reaction.


The North London Derby is no different, but the parameters for this last bout have changed. For over twenty years, Arsenal have governed this constituency, but this game saw tottenham in the ascendency. They were favourites – and for good reason.


So much so, that a recent Combined XI from respective club legends Ledley King and Thierry Henry recently for Sky Sports, saw just one Arsenal player in this amalgamated team.

Just one.


Is this fair?


Here is a more balanced version of an eleven made up from spurs and Gunners players. What do you think?











Petr Cech or Hugo Lloris?

Verdict – Hugo Lloris

Petr Cech has been a bastion of excellence and reliability ever since he came to the Premier League, but this season has seen a slip below his usual standards. Facts are facts, and he has 14 clean sheets to Cech’s 9, and has conceded 13 goals less. Hugo Lloris has maintained his performances, and his athleticism racing from his line sees him take the gloves for this team.


Hector Bellerin or Kyle Walker?

Verdict – Hector Bellerin

Kyle Walker seems to have the England spot nailed down, and his rapier speed has long been his trademark. Walker’s control has been his weakness, but he has really shaped up this season. Does it see him rise above Bellerin? Walker has more assists this season, but Hector’s passing percentage is higher. It really is closer than it was a couple of seasons ago. Hector’s haircut seemed to coincide with a drop in form, but he is faster than Walker, and his control is good enough to see him make the Spain squad. Bellerin for the win.


Toby Alderweireld or Shkodran Mustafi?

Verdict – Toby Alderweireld

The Belgian defender is a threat in the air on set pieces, and has strength and positional awareness in stock. Mustafi had a great start to his Arsenal career, but a drop in confidence for the whole team saw the German start to make errors. In spite of this, this is closer than most would give Mustafi credit for. He has more goals than Alderweireld, and has more aerial success than the Belgian. It is defensive stats that Alderweireld edges the German though. More clearances, more blocks and he makes less fouls. It is close, but in short, Mustafi is often shrugged off the ball, but how often have you seen Alderweireld suffer the same fate? Toby grabs the shirt.


Laurent Koscielny or Jan Vertonghen?

Verdict – Koscielny

Koscielny is viewed as a mandatory name in the side, and in the last few seasons, he has elevated himself and his displays so much that it wouldn’t be unfair to class him amongst the best in his position in Europe. Vertonghen is consistent, he is tough and when he is not in the spurs side, they look a little lost. But who should play? Koscielny scores more goals, and is a big-game player. He has a superior tackling percentage, makes less fouls and has played more minutes. Vertonghen makes more clearances and blocks, but he is blocked out of this eleven.


Nacho or Danny Rose?

Verdict – Danny Rose

Once the figure of ridicule, Rose has really improved. Up and down the left flank tirelessly, Rose is perhaps the most improved player in the spurs team. Nacho has been recalled into the Spain squad, and his attacking prowess is a real asset for Arsenal. Despite this, Rose has more goals in the League, and more clearances and blocks, as well as a superior tackling percentage. Rose has more than double the amount of bookings, but this Rose is planted into the eleven.


Eric Dier or Granit Xhaka?

Verdict – Eric Dier

The Swiss star is still adapting to the League, and his tackling style is continuing to get him unwanted attention from match officials. Eric Dier is adaptable, playing all across the backline and in defensive midfield, and the England man is strong aerially too. He has the edge in the defensive side of the game, with more clearances, blocks and less fouls. In terms of passing though, Xhaka obliterates his rival. Long balls, crosses, key passes are all in favour of Arsenal’s man. So who takes the shirt? Seeing as it is a defensive role, Dier edges it.


Santi Cazorla or Moussa Dembele?

Verdict – Santi Cazorla

Of course, the Spaniard is injured and has missed half of the season, but we are comparing teams, and Santi is undeniably part of this Arsenal side. Cazorla has played far less than his counterpart, and yet still has more goals and assists, as well as key passes. Dembele takes the defensive side of the duel, but Santi isn’t far behind, despite giving away so much in terms of physicality. Santi would benefit any team, this is a no-brainer. If it wasn’t for injury, this wouldn’t be a contest.


Theo Walcott or Heung-Min Son?

Verdict – Son

This is a toughie. The South Korean has more goals and assists than Walcott, but Theo better dribbling percentages, is dispossessed less, and has a higher match rating. Son is super-efficient in terms of chances though, and Son just gets the nod.


Christian Eriksen or Mesut Ozil?

Verdict – Eriksen

This is an oft-debated issue. Mesut Ozil has a fine pedigree, and his reputation precedes him. Eriksen’s star is still rising, and although last season he was eclipsed by Ozil, this season is a different story. The all-important assist totals is a one-sided battle, with Eriksen registering 12 to Ozil’s 6. Ozil has a better passing percentage, but Eriksen has more goals. The Dane has played six more games than the German, but this season has seen him become more dangerous, where Ozil has had to change his role with Cazorla missing. In terms of talent, Ozil bests Eriksen, but this season, Eriksen is in the eleven.


Dele Alli or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?

Verdict – Alli

This is a toughie. Arsenal’s left side is often changed, with no one really holding down the spot.
So, we go with the player who has played most from all the candidates, and that is The Ox. Here is a surprising stat; The Ox has the same amount of assists as Alli, even though he has made far less appearances. He also has a better passing percentage too. He has improved so much this season, but Alli has been talismanic. For such a young player, his threat in front of goal is huge. Alli must go into the team, but The Ox has pushed him hard.


Harry Kane or Alexis?

Verdict – Alexis

Both players are their teams leading goal-getters, and Kane is top of the charts when it comes to goals. In terms of assists though, Alexis leads the way with 9 so far. The Chilean also has better passing, key passes and shots per game. Although Kane has more goals, Alexis offers more than just goals. How can you leave out Alexis?

So, to surmise, here is the current combined XI –

Lloris

Bellerin

Alderweireld

Koscielny

Rose

Dier

Santi

Son

Eriksen

Alli

Alexis


This is viewed by some as the tipping point for North London. This season has finally seen tottenham emerge from Arsenal’s shadow. This is their best ever Premier League season, and they fully deserve to be where they are. Will this mean that from here, tottenham are the bigger team?

No. They may kick off a few seasons of superiority or they may not. Much depends on transfer activity and how spurs play at Wembley. For them to usurp Arsenal’s dominance in North London though they must first win the title, then win it at The Emirates twice, win more FA Cups and continue to be a presence in the Champions League.

Enjoy this season spurs, but this is not over.