Tag Archives: wright

Auba Signing Is Sign of things to come

The wait for star striker to sign a contract extension at our club was, well, excruciating.

We waited weeks and weeks for the official announcement. It felt far longer and indeed it was if you veer toward worrying incessantly. The fact that Auba’s contract term was winding down toward its final year and that milestone when negotiations with other clubs appeared closer than ever? That weighed heavy on a lot of our minds.

As Gooners, we are no strangers to players leaving us in the lurch. When we needed them most, they shunned the opportunity to forge their legacy at the club and instead went where the money and instant success was prevalent. So waiting each day for our Number14 to sign with us was pretty painful.

The official announcement saw club legend Wrighty, speak with Auba on The Emirates pitch and as ever, the former club record goalscorer was eloquent and raised some salient points. None more so than when he mentioned the fact that players have come and gone but when we needed him the most, Aubameyang has chosen to stay and continue his career at Arsenal, rather than take the bait and go elsewhere.

Put yourself in Aubameyang’s shoes. You are negotiating what will be the biggest contract of your life before your career inevitably winds down. You are aware that big clubs are circling around you and they could well offer you much more than you will get at Arsenal.

But you could forever etch your name into the annals of the club’s history.

It’s a tantalising prospect- at least for a fan it is anyway.

The Gabon frontman already has 55 goals from 87 appearances in the Premier League. Injury permitting, Auba should get another 20 goals this season, taking his PL tally to 75 goals, with two seasons left in his contract. That means he could make the 100 club in his time at the club, which would make him one of the fastest – if not THE fastest – to get there.

There are a lot of ‘ifs’ in the above sentence, but that concerns just his goalscoring exploits.

What about the chance to actually make history with the club?

Auba himself says he wants to go down with the Bergkamps, Wrighty’s and Henry’s of the club. It’s a pretty bold statement and to do so – he knows he needs to help the club win the title.

Without the Championship, Auba will never quite make the top step, unlike the above names – but cup wins could help enormously.

His double’s in our FA Cup semi-final and final will live long in the memory – we will be savouring his second goal against Chelsea for decades to come – and it is these moments that help daub names forever into the marble halls of our history.

Auba’s goalscoring was chief among the reasons we didn’t fall into midtable in the last two seasons. He is also the pinnacle of what Mikel Arteta is trying to build at the club. An outift that contends for the biggest trophies – the Spaniard is trying to get us back where we were.

Standing in the way are clubs with limitless spending power and teams that have had years of preparation to concoct the winning formula. Jurgen Klopp was given time at Liverpool to get where he is now – and it will be his team that stand in the way of any challengers to the crown.

With Aubameyang up front though, we will always stand a chance – and that is why him signing his contract is such a pivotal moment.

It is a surefire sign we are progressing and creating something that could very well be special.

Our Number14 is fired to make us great again and create history.

Waxing Lyrical About Wrighty

Can words do justice?

When a search for fitting superlatives leaves you exhausted, does that mean that a tribute would be a bad idea?

In terms of an Arsenal figurative Hall of Fame, any who deservedly roam this imaginary building – bedecked with marble of course – can transform a blogger into a gibbering wreck. How on earth can you surmise a player’s career when it affected so many people’s lives in a positive way?

Any attempt would be foolish – but isn’t it important to remind ourselves (even if it doesn’t do them justice) how good they really were?

Some names instantly conjure up memories. Such was their impact, a mere mention of their moniker and fans begin to wax lyrical about a specific moment or goal.

Ian Wright  is one of those players.

So good we named him thrice, Wrighty joined Arsenal after forming a destructive partnership with Mark Bright at Crystal Palace. The Eagles were not expected to pull up any trees, but their attacking might – aided by Geoff Thomas in midfield – ripped up the rulebook and made clubs take notice.

Luckily enough, Arsenal was to be Wrighty’s destination – and he started how he finished as a Gunner.

With a goal.

The occasion was pretty low-profile; a 2nd round Rumbelows Cup game against Leicester City. Wrighty wasn’t even expected to start the game, but Alan Smith’s ankle didn’t pass a fitness test. Our new striker had only signed that very week and he was instantly thrust into the eleven.

No pressure then. Well, it never showed on our star striker anyway. He grabbed the goal that gave us the initiative for the second leg and Graham cooed about his latest acquisition in the papers. The Scot mentioned Wrighty’s pace and his ability to make something from nothing. These talents were always on display in our red and white, and they made him a nightmare to defend against.

Wrighty has spoke about his energy levels as a youth and how they never really dipped as he got older. It meant that not only was he a delight to interview – as well as magnificently candid – but it required opposing defenders to maintain their concentration for the whole of the ninety minutes.

One slip, one lackadaisical jog back to hold the line?

Wrighty will get you.

His pace has been mentioned, but the reason that Wrighty was able to ensure his name amongst the pantheon of greats not only at Arsenal, but of the Premier League, was because his talents were the perfect storm.

His energy levels, his pace. They meant that defenders had to keep an eye on him constantly. But his positioning was chief among reasons why he was always in place to capitalise on a sublime pass or a fault by an opposing man.

Once he got these opportunities though, he still had to finish.

Wrighty has spoken about his inherent ability to put one in the onion bag. I distinctly remember a comment about his finishing, where he declared that the secret was to shoot when the keeper isn’t expecting it. He regularly fired a shot towards goal far earlier than convention would dictate. Most would carry nearer to the goal, but Wrighty’s belief in his talents meant he would try his luck quickly.

It’s fair to say it worked.

He was much more than a predator though. His finishing deserves its place among the best, but in his own personal highlight reel we can see that he is no one-trick pony. If variety is the spice of life, then Wrighty’s collection of goals is like Scotch Bonnet chili.

Chips? He had more than a Glaswegian street on a Saturday night. Outside of the box? So many efforts filled with venom ripped into the net from distance. Then there were the little indicators that genius was at work. The improvisations, the flicks that left a defender looking around for the ball and the player.

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Image credit – Arsenal FC

 

Wrighty’s career is impossible to really visualise into words. His relationship with Gooners is infatuation on both sides and if the next statue outside The Emirates was of Wrighty, arms aloft with his trademark grin, would anyone object?

Not a chance. My words might not do him justice, but his legacy will live on through us and the club.

 

Thank you Wrighty.

Aubameyang Up For Best Player at London Football Awards 2019

London’s footballing finest will be out in force on 28 February, as the annual London Football Awards take place on 28 February.

 

Battersea Evolution is the destination for this year’s LFA’s, and some of the biggest names in the sport will be vying for the awards, Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Chelsea winger Eden Hazard and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all nominated, with nine awards up for grabs during the prestigious event.

 

The cream of the capital’s football crop will be in attendance for this fifth London Football Awards. Among the honours being contested are Manager, Player and Young Player of the Year, as well as Women’s Player of the Year and Community Project of the Year also being in the spotlight.

 

Jordan Knobbs LFA18 winner & Kelly Smith MBE CREDIT Action Images.jpg

 

Nominees are selected by an independent panel of judges, hailing from respected media professionals belonging to the BBC, The Telegraph and Sky Sports, as well as distinguished current and ex-professional players.

 

The nominees were announced by Bob Wilson OBE on 28 January. Wilson and his wife Megs run the charity Willow, the only national charity dedicated to working with seriously ill young adults aged between 16-40, aimed at making wishes come true with Special Days designed to give those suffering a time to forget about their illness and make some memories.

 

The London Football Awards will raise some much-needed funds for Willow, and the competition for the awards will be keenly contested, the city’s biggest clubs and players will be duking it out among some shining lights from the Championship, League One and Two for honours. It will be a celebration of London’s footballing achievements, and a chance for some to achieve recognition for their brilliance during the season.

 

Ian Wright accepts Outstanding Contribution to London Football at LFA18 CREDIT Action Images.jpg

 

 

Over the five years of the LFA’s, the likes of Arsene Wenger, Ian Wright, John Terry and Frank Lampard have attended and picked up Outstanding Contribution to London Football awards, and this year will be no different. Tottenham and England legend Glenn Hoddle will be the next icon picking up this illustrious accolade.

 

The night will be filled with stars and those in attendance will be hoping that this year will be their time to pick up one of the gongs. Other past winners such as N’Golo Kante, Hugo Lloris, Dele Alli, Jordan Nobbs and Aaron Ramsey have all enjoyed the spectacle and been given the honour of winning their respective category, and Bob Wilson feels this year will be even bigger;

 

“The London Football Awards is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the skills of our nominees, as well as the outstanding community work achieved by the clubs and County FA’s. It’s been a dramatic and exciting season for all the capital’s clubs and it’s refreshing to see names from some second and third tier league teams, vying for awards against the usual Premiership heavyweights. I’m looking forward to celebrating the best of London’s football with friends and colleagues on February 28th.”

 

Standard tickets to the London Football Awards, including pre-dinner drinks and a three course meal, cost 225 pounds per person Tables of ten are available at 2,250 pounds, with Premium tables costing 3,500 and Legend tables (for nine guests plus a bona fide footballing legend) going for 6,000.

 

For more information and booking, visit www.londonfootballawards.org or call Willow on 01707 259777.

 

The London Football Awards 2018

The London Football Awards are back for 2018, and they’re bigger than ever.

In its fourth year, the London Football Awards showcase the finest that the London-based clubs have to offer, in both men’s and ladies football. The likes of Ainslie Maitland-Niles, Wilfried Zaha and Mauricio Pochettino have been nominated from the men’s game, while Lionesses Jordan Nobbs, Fran Kirby and Danielle Carter are in the running for the prestigious Women’s Player of the Year award.

Last year’s London Football Awards were dominated by Champions Chelsea, with Kante and Conte bringing home the silver-ware and Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, awarded the Outstanding Contribution trophy. This year sees the dominance of the Blues and Tottenham Hotspur on the pitch, translate into a hatful of nominations.

The Premier League Player of the Year Award has three Spurs players vying for the honour, with Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha also in contention. Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes is up for the Manager of the Year Award, after winning the Women’s Super League last season. Hayes has tough competition, with Mauricio Pochettino and Roy Hodgson also in line for the prize.

Legends from the present and past of the sport will be in attendance, and previous winners include Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Aaron Ramsey, Arsene Wenger and John Terry. There will be eight awards during the glitzy ceremony, hosted by BBC sports presenter Mark Chapman, and the spectacle promises to be a special night full of London’s footballing elite.

The London Football Awards raise funds for Willow, the only national charity providing fulfilling and unforgettable Special Days for seriously ill 16-40 year olds. Former Arsenal goalkeeper, Bob Wilson and his wife, Megs, founded Willow in memory of their daughter. So far, Willow has provided more than 14,500 special days for those that need it most. The organisation receives no government or Lottery funding, relying on the generosity from donations and amazing nights like this award ceremony.

The 2018 London Football Awards recognise the brilliance from the 13 London clubs; AFC Wimbledon, Arsenal, Barnet, Brentford, Charlton, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Millwall, QPR, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford and West Ham United. The awards range from PL Player, EFL Player and Young Player of the Year, through to Community Project of the Year.

Arsenal, Crystal Palace and England icon Ian Wright will be receiving the Outstanding Contribution to London Football award (Sponsored by Weston Homes) and will be in attendance to receive the trophy on the night.

Willow President and Arsenal legend Bob Wilson said, “Once again this season, football in London – in the Premier League, the Football League and the Women’s game – has been dramatic and exciting. The London Football Awards is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the skills of our nominees, which we have seen on the pitches of the capital over the last few months, as well as the amazing community work achieved by the clubs. I’m looking forward to catching up with lots of friends and colleagues at this year’s Awards on 1st March.”

Bob Wilson himself is on the judging panel, which is responsible for deciding the nominees and winners. The panel include luminaries such as former England strikers Tony Cottee and Martin Chivers, TV presenters Max Rushden and Jane Dougall, as well as journalists Sam Wallace and James Olley, and a host of other assorted people associated with the sport.

The London Football Awards 2018 guarantees a real spectacle for London’s footballing excellence, and they will be gathering on 1st March in the capital to find out who takes the honours.

Find out more at www.londonfootballawards.org

PL Player of the Year

(Sponsored by ToscaFund)

Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea

Christian Eriksen – Spurs

Harry Kane – Spurs

Heung-Min-Son – Spurs

Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace

Manager of the Year

(Sponsored by Football Manager)

Emma Hayes – Chelsea Ladies

Roy Hodgson – Crystal Palace

Slavisa Jokanovic – Fulham

Neil Harris – Millwall

Mauricio Pochettino – Spurs

EFL Player of the Yeat

Josh Clarke – Brentford

George Savile – Millwall

Romaine Sawyers – Brentford

Ryan Sessegnon – Fulham

Alex Smithies – Queens Park Rangers

Goalkeeper of the Year

Adrian – West Ham Utd

Daniel Bentley – Brentford

Thibaut Courtois – Chelsea

Heurelho Gomes – Watford

Hugo Lloris – Spurs

Womens Player of the Year

(Sponsored by Coutts)

Millie Bright – Chelsea Ladies

Danielle Carter – Arsenal

Katie Chapman – Chelsea

Fran Kirby – Chelsea

Jordan Nobbs – Arsenal

Young Player of the Year (Under-23)

(Sponsored by Zeus)

Andreas Christensen – Chelsea

Ainslie Maitland-Niles – Arsenal

Davinson Sanchez – Spurs

Ryan Sessegnon – Fulham

Harry Winks – Spurs

Community Project of the Year

(Sponsored by the FA)

AFC Wimbledon Foundation – AFC Wimbledon Women and Girls

Brentford Community Sports Trust – The Fearless Foundation’s Journalism Project

QPR in the Community Trust – #A Game4grenfell

All images credited to Action Images.

Written for The London Economic.

​Giroud Haunted By Arsenal Ghosts

Published on The Arsenal Review

Every club has its heroes, and invariably, those that live longer in the memory are those that grabbed goals.

Lots of them.


Strikers are the glory-getters. The successful ones will forever live on with a golden hue tinging every montage that is on a reel in supporters minds. Strikers always hold a special place amongst fans.


Arsenal in the last three decades have enjoyed a glittering blessing from deities that have bestowed a shedload of goals upon Gooners. The rollcall is not only a who’s-who of top flight attacking – it is the equivalent of the Hollywood Boulevard paved with stars.


Alan Smith. Ian Wright. Nicolas Anelka. Thierry Henry. Robin Van Persie.


The names above make the boots of whomever is chosen to wear them, a little harder to wear.


We as fans, have been spoiled. We now want our strikers to continue this miraculous tradition, and any who fall short are immediately resigned to a lesser status. We are still able to recognise their strengths, but they will never measure up unless their exploits match up to our heroes of old.


So Olivier Giroud had one hell of a job when he joined from Ligue Un winning Montpellier in 2013.


The hirsute Frenchman has been castigated by pundits, journalists and even our own fans for his unique brand of histrionics on the pitch and sometimes, for being just too damn handsome – like it makes his game a little weaker because he takes time on his appearance.


Numbers do not lie though, so let us see how Giroud measures up.











In total goals for the club, the bearded one falls short of course. Olivier has grabbed 69 goals thus far in 164 outings in a Gunners shirt.  Alan Smith had a haul of 86 goals in 264 apps, Robin Van Persie had 96 goals in 194 outings, Ian Wright smashed 128 goals in 221 games and King Thierry a breathtaking 174 goals in just 254 games. Only Nicolas Anelka scored less, with 23 goals in 65 games.


All of these players had differing durations at the club though. Of course their goal total will be affected by longevity, so the real stat worth poring over is goals per game, right?


A goal every 2.37 games for Giroud so far, compared to 3.07 for Smudge, 2.82 for Anelka, 2.02 for RVP, 1.72 for Wrighty and 1.46 for Titi.


So Giroud’s exploits so far hold up well against the strikers who helped forge the club in its current image.


Giroud still falls short though. Despite his higher amount of substitute appearances than the rest, despite the fact he had the best efficiency rating in the Premier League last season – Giroud is still found to be craning his neck up to the heavens when he looks at the strikers who came before him.


Giroud is hampered by the fact he has never broken the 20-goal barrier in a PL season as well. That level is the unspoken barometer when gauging what makes a complete striker, and as Olivier has never breached it, he has often been maligned. 


What is often overlooked though, is his hold-up play, his awareness for his teammates, his front-post prowess. Giroud in many respects is one of the best in what he does.


Until Giroud manages to be a major part of a side that wins the league though, or a side that challenges seriously at the very least, he will forever be in the bracket that lies below the true greats. It is only in the deepest heat that diamonds are created, and the ones who came before Giroud either lifted trophies regularly or their goals held the rest of the team up a la RVP.


Giroud is a fine striker, and one that we should attempt to retain the services of. He can get to 100 goals for the club in the near future and that will push him a few inches nearer to Gunners immortality – but he still has some way to go to stand alongside Smudge, Wrighty and Thierry.


Win a title, keep doing what he has done since he joined. He will always be fondly remembered, but the word ‘legend’ is bandied around far too liberally and has lost its impact a little.


It takes a hell of a lot to gain that status. 

Meeting Wrighty and the Premiership Trophy

Opportunities, when they present themselves, must be grasped firmly. Regret is a poison that can be avoided as long as these chances are taken when they arise.

Meeting bonafide Arsenal icon Ian Wright is one of these very opportunities.

Thanks to a good friend ( Josh, I owe you! ) and Barclays, I was invited, along with a group of Leicester City and Spurs fans, to meet heroes from each respective club, offer our opinions on our prospective title chances and get some snaps alongside the most shiny of baubles – the Premier League trophy.

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