Posts Tagged With: Arsenal

The Cool Wall

A little later than intended due to a bank holiday weekend getaway, it is time to hatch my new feature. This is in fact the Birth of the Cool

As I outlined in my first post Beginnings I will be adding some regular features and Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week will now be joined by The Cool Wall that I will probably be adding to as well as making any necessary adjustments once a month or so.

Like its car-based cousin, The Cool Wall won’t reflect how good players and managers are or how much I (or potential guest judges) even like them necessarily: it will be massively subjective and yet built on some semi-coherent if partially inexpressible criteria. Also, there’s is no Jeremy Clarkson.

So without further ado, the inaugural 5 players or managers are…

Ricardo Sá Pinto, Ryan Shotton, Timo Hildebrand, Roy Hodgson and Lukas Podolski…

Ricardo Sá Pinto

Sartorial but hard as nails

Is there any doubt? There aren’t many managers who can stroll around the dugout rocking braces and white elbow patches but Ricardo knows what he’s doing. Ricardo Sá Pinto is S-u-b Z-e-r-o.

Ryan Shotton

Nice towel

Easy prey perhaps but a useful benchmark nonetheless Ryan Shotton’s status as a top flight footballer and his overall contribution to the sport can be reduced to 3 points:

1. He is good at drying the ball.

2. He has a throw-in that is a bit like Rory Delap’s.

3. He is not in fact as old as Rory Delap.

The only problem being of course that he doesn’t have a throw-in that is a bit like Rory Delap’s. It’s nothing like Rory Delap’s. There are no redeeming features. He is seriously uncool.

 

Timo Hildebrand

Super Timo

Ah, Timo! The journeyman goalkeeper is a rare breed indeed but it was not always this way for the man who once seemed destined to make the German no1 shirt his own. Timo spent eight often successful years at Stuttgart at the beginning of his career as one of the original jungen Wilden (young wild ones) but whilst some things change, in this case being cool does not.

 

Roy Hodgson

“So long suckers” – Roy on leaving Liverpool (may not be exact quote)

Firstly, I do actually think that Hodgson is a better choice than Redknapp for England in the short and long term but that isn’t important here, in fact becoming the England manager may even count against him. Globe-trotting Englishmen in football are few and far between however and for one to be hired by a club like Inter Milan on two separate occasions they have to be doing something right even if their major successes lay elsewhere! Since his return to these shores Roy has been an absolute hero, even being fired by Liverpool isn’t uncool given Suarez-gate(s)! A narrow escape indeed! So is Roy Hodgson in fact cool? No, but he’s certainly not uncool either.

Lukas Podolski

The Pod

The question of whether Poldi is cool would, just a few short week ago, have had an extremely simple answer; he is one of my favourite players and one that I scarcely allowed myself to believe would actually be joining Arsenal but therein lies the problem. On the Cool Wall’s car-based cousin if one of the presenters buys the car in question it is automatically demoted and there is an element of that here although for slightly different reasons. Your own team is often too close to home, especially with new signings that haven’t even played yet – how on earth will they get on??? You don’t want to count your eggs too soon, nor end up with them on your face further down the line. The only problem is… Lukas Podolski is undoubtedly cool.

The Cool Wall – CLICK TO ENLARGE

Advertisements
Categories: The Cool Wall | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week: Are you still playing??? (Part 2)

Following on from Are you still playing??? (Part 1) this week it’s a selection of well known current players as they were in 1997/98…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Featured in 1997/98: Shay Given (currently at Aston Villa), Nicolas Anelka (left Chelsea in January 2012, now playing for Shanghai Shenhua), Kevin Davies (currently at Bolton Wanderers), Rio Ferdinand (currently at Manchester United), Philip Neville (currently at Everton)

[Every player mentioned above can be found in the Sticker Archive]

Categories: Are you still playing???, Merlin Premier League Stickers of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May The 4th Be With You!

More deadly than Campbell and Brolin

May 4th is not only Star Wars day but also the anniversary the 1993/94 European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

In what has inadvertently turned into George Graham season on Mountain’s Short Thoughts & Bits, it’s time to look back at the final that pitted Arsenal against defending champions Parma who could boast the attacking talents of Brolin, Zola and Asprilla in their starting eleven!

May the 4th be with you!

Categories: Flashback | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Up For Grabs Now! – The Title Decider

[Including: Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week: Arsenal Legends… 1988/89]

With Premier League leaders Man United set to face second place Man City on Monday night in a match that could decide the fate of the title this season it seems like a good time to look back at another title deciding bout from the season I was born. In 1988/89 however, due to the Hillsborough disaster the meeting between the top two clubs was postponed until the very end of the season.

POS Club Pld W D L F A GD PTS
 1 Liverpool 37 22 10 5 65 26 +39 76
 2 Arsenal 37 21 10 6 71 36 +35 73

Anything other than an Arsenal win by at least two clear goals would see Liverpool clinch the title, the problem for the Gunners was that Liverpool had not lost by two or more goals at Anfield in three years, Arsenal hadn’t beaten them there since 1974/75 and Liverpool had never lost a match with both John Aldridge and Ian Rush up front!

“Now I’ve heard of Liverpool. They’re famous for being good, aren’t they? Gary Lineker, Peter Shilton, all that lot.”

– Jo in Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch

Despite Lineker and Shilton never having played for Liverpool, Jo had it about right.

Over to Mr George Graham…

 

“Arsenal come streaming forward now in surely what will be their last attack. A good ball by Dixon, finding Smith, for Thomas, charging through the midfield… it’s up for grabs now… Thomas, right at the end!!!”

– Brian Moore

Level on points, level on Goal Difference, Arsenal had won the league on goals scored:

Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
 1 Arsenal 38 22 10 6 73 36 +37 76
 2 Liverpool 38 22 10 6 65 28 +37 76

Which brings us to the Premier League Stickers of the Week: the Arsenal team that started that day and brought the Division One trophy back to Highbury (although O’Leary features as an 80’s Panini because I somehow failed to collect him as either a player or a manager!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From 1993/94: John Lukic (Leeds United), Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, David Rocastle (Leeds United), Kevin Richardson (Aston Villa), Alan Smith (repeat)

From 1994/95: Steve Bould

From 1995/96: Michael Thomas (Liverpool!!!)

From 1996/97: Paul Merson

[Panini 1987/88: David O’Leary]

[All these (and more…) can be found in the Sticker Archive]

Categories: Arsenal Legends, Flashback, Merlin Premier League Stickers of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week: Internationals… World Cup Winners (Part 1)

Continuing the Juninho Paul-Easter celebrations today is a selection of World Cup winners who graced the Premier League including the Brazilian maestro himself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From 1994/95: Jurgen Klinsmann (with West Germany in 1990)

From 1996/97: Juninho Paulista (with Brazil in 2002)

From 1997/98: Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira (both with France in 1998)

From 1998/99: Stéphane Guivarc’h (with France 1998)

That’s right, France won the World Cup with Stéphane Guivarc’h up front… No, honestly they did!

[All these (and more…) can be found in the Sticker Archive]

Categories: Internationals, Merlin Premier League Stickers of the Week, World Cup Winners | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week: Brits & Irishmen Abroad… Italy (Part 1)

Today it’s a selection of Premier League players who have also plied their trade in Italy…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you have a bit of time then take a look at this piece I wrote last year:

Mountain’s Blog – Football Italia: The all-time XI British & Irish footballers to play in Italy

or for a whole website based on English footballers playing abroad see Gav Stone’s Les Rosbifs.

From 1993/94: Ian Rush (Juventus 1987/88)

From 1995/96: David Platt (Bari 1991/92, Juventus 1992/93, Sampdoria 1993-95), Mark Hateley (AC Milan 1984-87)

From 1997/98: Paul Ince (Inter Milan 1995-97)

From 1999/2000: Robbie Keane (Inter Milan 2000/01)

[All these (and more…) can be found in the Sticker Archive]

Categories: Brits & Irishmen Abroad…, Italy, Merlin Premier League Stickers of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merlin’s Premier League Stickers of the Week: I Remember When You Played… Pundits (Part 1 – Sky Sports)

This week it’s a look back at the glory days of some of Sky Sports’ finest…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From 1993/94: Paul Merson, Tony Gale, Alan Smith, Iain Dowie

From 1994/95: Jamie Redknapp, Paul Walsh,

From 1996/97: Gary Neville

[All these (and more…) can be found in the Sticker Archive]

Categories: I Remember When You Played..., Merlin Premier League Stickers of the Week, Pundits | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pod

Click on the image for a gif-tastic moving version!

Yeah! Fist pump! Look how happy Lukas Podolski is. Maybe it’s because everyone’s favourite left-footed German Polish German forward has just agreed to join Arsenal… as long as he passes a medical… and can agree personal terms… and doesn’t decide that he’d rather join Lokomotiv Moscow… or Anzhi… or Schalke… all places where he could earn more money… It’s got to be the Arsenal thing though right?

Apparently we have Per Mertesacker’s text messages to thank for any potential move, he can be quite convincing sometimes.

Not courtesy of News International

One last thing – if you’ve got a second, check out this brilliantly named tumblr: http://fuckyeahlukaspodolski.tumblr.com.

(I preferred the ‘Bad To The Bone’ video but it was taken down on YouTube :-()

Categories: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Arsène We Trust?… Yes of course. Here’s why.

Originally posted on Mountain’s Blog

Recently Hani (@hanicinnamon), a friend of mine, sent me a message on twitter containing the following assessment of Arsène Wenger: “the man’s stubbornness has cost #Arsenal dear #sadbuttrue” followed by:

@Jake_Mountain arsene’s net spend in recent yrs is ridiculous considering the club’s aspirations.why is he so reluctant to dish out?!

For a while, I wondered how on earth I was going to respond to this in 140 characters before realising that not only was it impossible but it was about time I entered the ongoing Wenger debate properly anyway…

Five seasons without a major trophy (six if we don’t win the league at this time of asking) is the statistic most commonly used to criticise Wenger. If you consider also that Wenger finished either 1st or 2nd every single year from 1997/98 (his first full season) to 2004/05 and that we have finished either 3rd or 4th every year since, this would appear to be further damning evidence of our performance in recent years.

What must be considered however is what has been happening at Arsenal as well as what has been happening outside the club during this time. The past few years of Le Professeur’s tenure must be considered against this backdrop as well as the ongoing strategy that he has employed.

Firstly, the long term investment in the Emirates Stadium is no small expense. Construction of the new stadium started in 2004 with Arsenal moving in for the 2006/07 season. It cost around £390m (depending on source, plus related costs) although £100m was recouped through selling naming rights to Emirates Airlines. With a capacity of over 60,000 generating £3m per match compared to Highbury’s seated capacity of under 38,500, the stadium will pay for itself in time but in the short term this expenditure necessitated a change in transfer policy.

Alongside this development at Arsenal, Roman Abramovich would move the financial playing field of English football in the opposite direction when he bought Chelsea in 2003, spending £100m on players (the equivalent of £222m in 2010’s football prices) before the 2003/04 season alone. Whilst Arsenal’s average starting eleven cost 94% of champions Man Utd’s in 2002/03, the league winning Invincibles of 2003/04 had only the fourth most expensive average starting eleven behind Newcastle, Man Utd and Chelsea, costing just 64% of Chelsea’s. By 2004/05 this was down to 50%, in 2005/06 it was 42% and unbelievably in 2006/07 Arsenal’s average starting eleven cost just 26% of Chelsea’s. With prices adjusted to those of 2010, the Chelsea squad of 2006/07 was the most expensive squad ever assembled in the Premier League weighing in at £439m!

Wenger’s overall success in the transfer market is demonstrated by the table below (from Paul Tomkins, Graeme Riley & Gary Fulcher’s Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era). He actually makes a profit during his Premier League career whilst Benitez who is less well known for his prowess in the transfer market also comes out extremely well with only a slight loss. Ferguson, despite the golden generation of Giggs, Scholes, Beckham and the Nevilles that cost him nothing and a willingness to sell players such as van Nistlerooy whilst still in their prime, does not fare so well. What the table shows most clearly however is the extravagant transfer policy of Abramovich’s Chelsea and the advantage they had over their rivals. It is of little surprise that they were able to break the duopoly at the top of the table.

Manager

Profit/Genuine Increase in Value

Loss/Genuine Decrease in Value

Ratio

Wenger

£208,922,365

£194,105,347

1:1

Benitez

£65,342,062

£68,895,851

1:1

Ferguson

£83,924,300

£367,913,518

1:4

Mourinho

£20,736,577

£261,207,169

1:13

Ranieri

£4,199,955

£249,457,937

1:64

Considering Arsenal’s increasingly modest budget and the on-set of the Abramovich era, our ability to remain as competitive as we have done is extraordinary. An interesting indicator is ‘cost per point’ in the Premier League (cost of average starting eleven divided by points achieved during season). Between 2001 and 2010 the cheapest ‘cost per point’ for a team finishing with 70+ points belongs to Arsenal in 2008/09 at just £797,545 compared to Chelsea’s £2,506,549 and Man Utd’s £1,760,409. Amazingly we had only the ninth most expensive average starting eleven that year but still finished in the Champions League places (something we have achieved 13 years in a row). The second cheapest ‘cost per point’ (and only other below £1m) also belongs to Arsenal with £864,868 in 2009/10.

Combine this with the fact that we have continued to play a brand of exciting and attacking football that is much admired and our ability to remain competitive is all the more impressive.

This has not purely been a period of frugality and attempting to hang on to highflying rivals however; it is a deliberate and thought out strategy to meet the situation we were in but also looking forwards to the future. As Wenger says, he has sought to “create a culture at the club” that will “give us strength that other clubs will not have”. By developing players from as early an age as possible to play together in the Arsenal way, the potential rewards are massive as Barcelona have demonstrated.

Following a 3rd placed finish in 2007/08 where we were 4 points behind Man Utd and only 2 points behind Chelsea having led the table at Christmas, Wenger further explained his plans in September 2008:

When you are not on the transfer market you are a little bit ignored at the start of the season because the attention is focused on the big signings, most of the time, big signings mean you are favourites. We have gone a different way. We are trying to build a young side with a cohesive way to play the game with a culture of football we like. We were close last year so there is no reason why we should not be in there again this season. Today we had Denilson 20, Fabregas 21, Bendtner 20, Walcott 19, Song 20. When those players fight for the title one year you can hope they will be better the next year.

With the best camparison being with Barcelona’s development of players through their La Masia academy such as the likes of Messi, Busquets and Pedro it must be remembered that these players are supported by the more senior La Masia graduates Puyol, Xavi and Valdes (and even Guardiola himself!). Our nearest equivalent would have been Ashley Cole had he not defected. Iniesta and Pique meanwhile are both still older than Fabregas, captain and one of the more senior players to have been at Arsenal since a young age. In the first leg of the Champions League meeting between the two sides this year; the average age of the Arsenal team was 23.2, the average age of the Barcelona team was 27.4 and as Wenger said at the time: “four years at that level is absolutely huge“. At the start of last season he stated that:

I agreed on a structure to the club four or five years ago, I believed it could work and we are at the period now when we will see whether I was right or not

What this means is that his project is just starting to come into fruition as our young players start to come of age. It is only now that this team was ever expected to be challenging for trophies, ironically just as a few Arsenal fans appear to be losing patience with Wenger and as rather more are saying they are in support of him but continue to claim that he needs to ‘change his philosophy’. Perhaps this is born of too many seasons where they believed that ‘this is our year’.

I am not saying that this is our year or that next year is our year, rather that thanks to Wenger we are in a position where we should be able to challenge over the next few years as we continue to develop young players and others continue to gain experience according to the model we now have in place. We will do this from a new and impressive stadium that has a capacity that matches our stature. The fact that we have remained as competitive as we have done before reaching this point is testament to what a great manager Wenger is.

As the debts of the Glazers’ Man Utd soar, sensible financial planning off the pitch means that we will not be saddled with debt indefinately and as Sheikh Mansour starts to make Abromovich look tight-fisted the UEFA Financial Fair Play Rules will start to affect teams from 2011/12 onwards (although any sanctions won’t affect teams until 2014/15).

At the time of writing Arsenal sit 2nd in the Premier League table, 4 points ahead of Chelsea and only 5 points behind Man Utd with a game in hand. The weekend meanwhile saw a Euro 2012 Qualifier between England, with 19-year-old Jack Wilshere of Arsenal in the heart of midfield, and Wales, captained by 20-year-old Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal.

 

The future is bright.
In Arsène we trust.


[Statistics relating to transfers and the costs of average starting elevens/per point taken from Paul Tomkins (@paul_tomkins), Graeme Riley & Gary Fulcher’s (@TransferIndex) Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era – thanks also to Kieron O’Connor (@SwissRamble) & Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) for their contributions to the same book]
Categories: Arsenal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.