Which of these five players would you like to bring back to Arsenal?

When people talk about Arsenal at the moment, it is always regarding the future. How will the current team progress in the next couple of years? When will Arsenal be ready to challenge for the title again?

As much as I am not fed up with this talk (because it highlights the huge amount of potential this team has), I thought it would make a change to take a look at the past instead. Let’s take a look at five players from the past and decide which one we would like back.

One thing to remember for this is that these players would be coming back to Arsenal at their peak. Not as they are now – at their best. It is an exercise in which the current crop could do with some help more than anything. Without further to do, what are the five choices?

David Seaman
Some argue that Seaman has never been replaced. He made 566 appearances between 1990 and 2003 and is a true Arsenal legend. Would his ability to lead from the back be valuable in the current team?

Dennis Bergkamp
Quite simply, Bergkamp is one of the best players to have ever played for the club. His vision, his passing, his finishing – the man had everything. Imagine him amongst the attacking threat Arsenal already possess!

Thierry Henry
The first of our five that is still playing now and arguably for the best team in Europe. Henry is another player that will be spoken about in many years to come. His pace, his skill, his influence over his team mates. The man was immense.

Tony Adams
On a number of occasions this season, people have criticised Arsenal’s defence. They have lacked leadership and authority at the back according to some. How about a certain player who made over 650 appearances for the club to steady the ship?

Ian Wright
Wrighty was one of the best goal scorers the club has ever seen. He notched 185 goals during his time at the club and was a firm fans’ favourite. Would you like to see him alongside Adebayor or van Persie?

So there you have it – over to you now. Each of these players would make valuable contributions in the current team, but which would you like to see back the most?

Personally, I find it hard to look past Mr Bergkamp.

By Thomas Rooney

Arsenal vs Liverpool – Fantastic Goals

Arsenal.com have put up a montage of the best 10 goals Arsenal vs. Liverpool.

Here’s some of my favourites – Thierry Henry, at Highbury, Vieira at Anfield!

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Why has Thierry Henry not delivered the goods in Spain?

With the international break in full swing, it can be a time to discuss alternative issues to that involving the Premier League. So, I wanted to take a look at Thierry Henry’s career since leaving Arsenal for Spanish giants Barcelona. The 31-year-old has just started his second season at the club, but according to their sporting director, Txiki Beguiristain, he has ‘not looked convincing’ in a Barcelona shirt as yet.

Considering how influential and successful he was in Arsenal colours, this seems rather hard to believe. However, Beguiristain goes on. He says that Henry doesn’t look like he fits in the team at times and that his time in Spain has been dogged by ‘personal problems’.

Any fans in England will be wondering if Beguiristain is talking about the same player that scored 226 goals for Arsenal? Henry could do no wrong in England and was so often the match winner for Arsene Wenger’s side. In July 2008, the Frenchman was even voted the greatest Arsenal player of all time. So what has happened to him in Spain?

Well, it has to be down to a number of factors. First up, everyone connected with Barcelona possibly expected too much. When he arrived for just over £16m, there were thousands of fans ready to welcome him at the Nou Camp. They had pursued the striker for quite some time and now they eventually had their man – they wanted instant results. However, he didn’t grab his first goal until September and unlike Arsenal fans – who would rarely criticise Henry – the Barcelona fans were straight on his back.

In all honesty though, Henry’s first season in Spain was a poor one for everyone involved at Barcelona. There were no trophies won and finishing a rather staggering 18 points behind arch-rivals Real Madrid didn’t help proceedings. Perhaps as the club’s major new signing, Henry was made a scapegoat for their problems. In all fairness though, he still managed to score 19 goals to be the club’s leading scorer.

So, in terms of goals scored, Henry wasn’t too far off the pace. However, he simply hadn’t won the fans over. At Arsenal, everytime he touched the ball there was a buzz about the place and more often than not Henry delivered the goods. Quite simply, this hasn’t happened at Barcelona. Some sections of the media have even said that the Frenchman ‘lacks commitment’, something he had in abundance during his time in England.

I suppose part of the problem could be that he was played out of position a lot of the time. Barcelona’s boss last season, Frank Rijkaard, often played him on the left wing leaving him with numerous defensive duties. This isn’t the way to go with Henry. Yes, he hugs the left wing a lot when playing up front, but it is done without the need to track back.

The new season though has brought renewed hope for Barcelona and Henry. New boss Pep Guardiola even stated at the beginning of the new campaign that Henry would be his ‘main man’ as he looked to guide the club towards various honours.

So, has this been the case? Well, judging by the comments previously mentioned by the club’s sporting director – it would appear not. However, it has been said by the same man that Henry is ‘improving’. He is becoming a central part of the team and having much more of an impact on how Barcelona are playing. They have won their last four games and although Henry has only found the net twice – he is starting to stamp his authority on the team like many expected him to last season.

Barcelona fans will want trophies though and if they fail to deliver them, it is the likes of Henry that will unfairly get blamed again – no matter how well they may be playing.

By Thomas Rooney

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Theo Walcott – No. 14, the new Henry?!

Arsenal announced today that Theo Walcott, the young English striker will wear the No. 14 shirt next season.

This is a big step for the young player from shirt No.32 to having No.14,which is a legendary shirt, it was Henry’s number, and he was the best striker ever to play for Arsenal.

This shows several things on Wenger’s part:

1. Theo will be used more often this season, and definitely in a more attacking role.

2. Wenger has faith in Theo’s abilities – giving him the No.14 shirt is a very symbolic move.

It is funny that they also have the similarity that they have been used on the wing – Henry at Juve and Theo last season for Arsenal. They are both also very pacy.

Obviously Theo is his own player and all players are induviduals, but this does say good things about his potential to be a great player!

For Arsenal’s Squad list click here.

Van Persie scores – Out with the old, in with the new

Yesterday saw Holland continue their good form and thrash France 4-1 at Euro 2008, putting them through to the Quarter-Finals, and France on the brink of disaster. The game itself was a great spectacle, both sides had a lot of chances, but Holland’s counter-attacking play ruined France’s chances of a comeback.

This game mirrored in some ways the transition at Arsenal, with players like Henry playing for an aging France side, while young starlets like Van Persie (when fit!) scoring. The Dutch play a great passing game, and have really stood out for me. The way they have brushed aside the two finalist of the 2006 World Cup is impressive.

I can only hope that we can start getting more results like this next season, and one for the future – I wouldn’t mind seeing Van Basten at Arsenal when it comes to the day that Wenger retires.

Emmanuel Adebayor: Legend, or one season wonder? Comparing Henry’s stats

In Emmanuel Adebayor’s first two full seasons at Arsenal he has caused about as much controversy as anything else. Opinion is divided over his qualities as a player and personality. In light of criticism of his play I thought I’d take a look at his statistics in comparison with the sacred Thierry Henry after his first two seasons at the club:

Henry (All competitions):

  • 1999-00 – Apps: 48, Goals: 26, Assists: 9
  • 2000-01 – Apps: 53, Goals: 22, Assists: 3

Henry scored 0.54 goals per game in 1999-00, and 0.42 per game the following season. These were only his first two seasons at the club, and the rate of roughly a goal every other game is impressive for a player reconverting to the strikers role.

In comparison Adebayor, joined Arsenal in January 2006, but he only played 13 games so these stats count from his first full season at the club in 2006-07.

  • 2006-07 – Apps: 44, Goals: 12, Assists: 4
  • 2007-08 –  Apps: 54, Goals: 30, Assists: 5

Adebayor scored 0.27 goals per game in his first season, playing approximately the same number of games as Thierry. The team was performing worse in the league at the time, eventually finishing fourth, compared to second place in 1999-00. In his second season Adebayor became a 30-goal striker, taking 0.56 goals per game, the video below shows all 30.

We can see from the stats that Adebayor, playing as second striker last season was not as effective as Henry in his first full season. Emmanuel played with Henry in 2006-07, and scored just 12 in comparison with Henry’s 26 in 1999-2000. 2007-08 has seen a marked different in the goalscoring. His 0.56 goals per game ratio is better than either of Henry’s first two seasons, although only marginally.

There are differences in the approach for 2007-08, the most marked change being Adebayor playing as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation, and has done better in terms of goals and assists. This is part of what drove the club to a title challenge during the season.

Remember that Adebayor wasn’t as experienced as Henry when he joined the club, having only played for three seasons in the first team at AS Monaco. Whereas Henry had already spent some years in Italy at Juventus, and played for the French national team, albeit on the left wing, before joining Arsenal in 1999.

The performance from 07-08 looks promising on Adebayor’s part, although it is unlikely he can ever scale the heights which Theirry Henry managed.

Statistics don’t tell the whole story, the league has changed drastically in the seven years between these seasons, and generally has become more defensive in tactical outlook. Arsenal’s formation is also different, and having a single striker may increase the opportunities for that player’s goal-scoring.

Henry is ultimately the best player Arsenal ever had, but the data shows that Adebayor’s contribution is not unimpressive.  Although not as fast as Henry, or as technically gifted, he has dogged determinism, and passes the ball well.

They are different players, and so ultimately comparison is difficult. What is clear is that Adebayor has potential, it remains to be seen if he can really use this and develop into a top quality striker. If Adebayor maintains a high workrate then Arsene is right to believe in him.

Update: Arsenal Column has an excellent piece with stats on Adebayor as he departs to Man City in the summer of 2009.

Fabregas’ new contract – The result of Flamini’s move?

Fabregas is likely to sign a new contract at Arsenal after the problems we’ve had this year with Flamini and Hleb.

Cesc already earns about £60 000 a week, but to keep him at the club it looks like Wenger will have to be a bit more competitive and may offer up to £100 000 a week.

Sagna has been offered a new contract, and Clichy just signed a two year extension, he had this to say:

“We’re at the end of our discussions. Everything’s going well because my intention is clear: I want to stay at Arsenal.

“I would love to have a career here like Patrick Vieira or Thierry Henry, to stay many years at Arsenal and leave my mark on the club.

It seems that Wenger has realised that to keep the best players at the club we need to have them on contracts which rival other big clubs, but we don’t necessarily have to blow our wage structure in doing so.

We have great players, who on the most part realise that what we have at Arsenal is quite special, and that Wenger can bring the best out of a squad, but when big offers come, such as Milan’s for Flamini, they may be tempted.

I would say though that the Flamini situation was exceptional, in that he was a fringe player for 3 years, and was going to leave in the summer.

That was why his contract was not renewed, and then when he played so well this season Milan were able to pull him away with a hefty wage packet, and a chance he couldn’t have dreamed of last summer, when it looked like he was joining Birmingham!

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Arsenal Transfer News Latest

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Adebayor says he will be at Arsenal next season after reports in Spanish newspapers aboput interest from Barcelona.

Many teams have been linked with him, and he has done well this season, proving his scoring potential is almost on a par with Henry!

He said that he will be staying though!

“I don’t know why people want to put words in my mouth. As I said on Friday, I love Arsenal and I will be here next season.”I am off to Togo tomorrow but will return to Arsenal for pre-season training in July.”

We have been strongly linked with Yaya Toure, to come and replace Flamini, he had this to say:

“I can’t say anything for the moment, but it’s true that it would be great to play for a big club with my brother.

Well that is very promising, it looks quite possible that he may come over. The only thing which makes this one a doubt is that he hasn’t been at Barca very long. You never know though!

I’m a little more sceptical of this one. Apparently Wenger is interested in Mauro Zarate, who was on loan at Birmingham from Al Saad Sports Club of Qatar. He looked fast, but not really an Arsenal style player. I don’t think he’s good enough for the Arse to be honest.

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Hleb and Flamini, Latest News

Wenger has made an improved offer to Flamini to try and get him to stay. Read here. It’s reportedly £55 000 a week. He said this here:

“I believe he wants to stay and we want him to stay. We have made him an offer, if it’s not good enough we will know soon.”I respect our wages structure. We have made an offer. We think it is decent and that is it.”

I am quietly confident that he will sign for us, the deadline is the end of April, so we will know in the next week whether he stays or goes.

Another player linked out, Hleb: and Wenger’s really angry about the way Inter have shown their interest.

“Statements from inside the club saying they are interested in our players, without calling us that is not acceptable. You would never hear me saying that. If I am interested in a player I go to the chairman.

“The newspapers may have the speculation but for a club to come out with a statement like that and not even call… I think it is disrespectful. It is illegal.”

Stupid Inter.. I guess Hleb will stay, why would he want to leave??

Henry. Never say never.

Fabianski to start on Monday and the Boss may not even sign another ‘keeper if Jens leaves.

Sagna out for rest of season, not so suprised about this.

Modric signs for Spurs.

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Gallas, Toure and Adams: Captaincy

This morning there’s some controversy about our captiancy.

Toure has said:

“Gallas was really good for us at the start of the season but then after this Birmingham game he made a mistake, he knows that and we all tried to bring him back to the team and he came back well.When you make a mistake it is difficult after that, it was a really important part of our season.”

“I would be really, really proud to be captain. I am now one of the oldest players in the squad so naturally I feel like a captain and it doesn’t matter if I have the armband or not.”

Toure wants the armband desparately. He could be a good captian, but I don’t think he’s a real leader.

Gallas has hit back:

“They [the media] can say what they want… they will not bring me down, I’m stronger than that. It makes me mad because I don’t think [what happened in Birmingham] was our problem. How can you summarise our season with that thing at Birmingham? That is not why we stopped winning matches.

“It’s true, we shouldn’t pin all of our problems on the Birmingham game, we made too many defensive errors in the last few games, that’s what it came down to.

Read the original article here.

Could Adams be the man to sort out our defence? He is out of contract at Portsmouth and willing to come back. He makes a good point about the defence:

“I just feel that people don’t realise that the best back four win the league. The last two seasons Manchester United have had the best back four and, before that, John Terry and his men were fantastic for two years.

“We’ve kept more clean sheets at Portsmouth than Arsenal have, but I’m not going to question the great man [Wenger].

“I love the club, it was part of my life for so many years and if anyone at Arsenal wants to invite me back, I’m willing to give it a shot”

It would be great to see him back, and he could do a good job on the defence!