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Top 15 signings of the season so far

It’s just over the quarter mark of the season so that means it’s time for my annual ‘signings of the season so far’ article. After 11 games we have seen quite a few shocks already in terms of both results and positioning in the League tables, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Southampton making up the top 3. I wonder what the odds of that happening would’ve been at the start of the season.

To compile my top 15 I have taken many things into consideration. The player’s fee, their performance level over the first 11 games and whether I feel they can sustain this level throughout the season are just a few of those considerations.

We start at number 15…

15. Kevin Theophile-Catherine

theophile catherine

A young French Right Back who few would’ve even heard of before making his £2.1m move to Cardiff City from Ligue One side Rennes. Theophile –Catherine is a 24 year old French youth international who has settled in reasonably well at the back with another Cardiff City summer acquisition Steven Caulker. Capable of playing right across the back, we’ve already seen Kevin fill it in at Centre Back and has been an ever present starter for an impressive start to the season by Cardiff City, who have shipped 15 goals in their first 11 games, which isn’t bad for a side who have just been promoted. Kevin is certainly one to watch for the rest of the season and if he sustains his level of performance, the former Rennes man could be knocking on the doors of a few of the Premier League big boys.

14. Marko Arnautovic


In what has been a relatively tough start to his Stoke career, Mark Hughes will find some salvation in the summer coup of Mark Arnautovic. Keen followers of German football should know all about the Austrian international, who had several good years with Werder Bremen. Standing at 6’3, blessed with power, pace and wonderful technical ability, we are seeing a player who is ready made for the Premier League. We have seen in performances against Man Utd and Arsenal, glimpses of his potential and at a fee of just £2m, Marko who is just 24 years old is looking like somewhat of a steal.

13. Morgan Amalfitano


Morgan Amalfitano has been a vital part of West Brom’s impressive start to the season. A loan signing from Marseille which caught the eye of many as one of the shocks of the window. Morgan was recently capped by France in February 2012 and was a regular for Marseille but become surplus to requirements towards the end of last season. His goal in the victory against United at Old Trafford would have awoken many to his ability. If Amalfitano carries on with the form he has shown already this season, West Brom may have a job on their hands convincing Amalfitano to join permanently, I’m sure the big fish will be circling for the 28 year old.

12. Mathieu Flamini


Many eyebrows were raised at the summer acquisition of Flamini on a free transfer, another signing to stop Wenger from opening his wallet many thought. Boy how Flamini has proved them wrong. Flamini seems to have recaptured the form he had before he left Arsenal for Milan in 2008, with his tenacious tackling and ability to hunt the ball down. He has been a focal point in Arsenal’s surge to the top and will be key to any title aspirations Arsenal may have this year.

11. Simon Mignolet


‘Is he better than Reina’?

Was the question they all asked at the start of the season as Liverpool allowed Reina to join Napoli on loan and splashed £10m on the Belgian keeper from Sunderland. After an impressive few seasons in the Premier League, Mignolet is a young keeper on the rise and has started off well for Liverpool, conceding just the 10 goals in his first 11 Premier League starts for Liverpool. Whether he is a better keeper than Reina or not is yet to be seen, but Mignolet has already started his quest to silence the doubters.

10. Leroy Fer


Many were surprised when Norwich unveiled the signing of Dutch international central midfielder Leroy Fer for a fee of £4.5m from Twente. Leroy Fer was supposed to have signed for Everton in the January 2013 window for a fee almost double of that Norwich paid, but issues surrounding a long term knee injury stalled the deal. Fer has quickly gone on to establish himself in the Premier League as one of the best young Central Midfielders around. Strong in the air, as well as on the ground, Leroy Fer will be key to any hopes Norwich have of staying in the Premier League this term.

9. Tom Huddlestone


Many would be forgiven for forgetting about Tom Huddlestone, as his Spurs career wilted away and who was once a young hot prospect, flirted with the idea of relative obscurity. After managing just 28 starts in all competitions in his last 2 years at Spurs, Hull spent £5.25m ending Huddlestone’s Spurs nightmare. Tom has been a revelation since signing for Hull and has helped them to have the most impressive start out of all of the promoted clubs this year. At just 26, Huddlestone will be hoping this move rejuvenates his career as he tries to get back in with a shout for the England fold, possibly being a longshot for the World Cup squad.

8. Paulinho


The Brazilian who cost Spurs £17m has had a great start to English football and has settled in quicker than any of the other Spurs signings. Paulinho is undoubtedly a top class player, with great ball retention and the ability to influence the games tempo. Some have criticised Spurs negative game plan, but they have the second best defensive record in the League and Paulinho is instrumental into Villas-Boas game plan working. Paulinho will be hoping the best of Spurs’ summer acquisitions can click as well he has, as Spurs hope to break in to the top 4.

7. Steven Caulker


£8m. Great business for all 3 sides, though at first it may have come as a shock to see Spurs sell Caulker who is a great young English prospect. Caulker felt he needed to move to gain regular football to aid his development, and Cardiff City offered him that. Caulker has everything in his Arsenal to become a top drawer Centre Back; his performances this season have shown that.  Caulker has been a key part of a defence that minus the 6 goals conceded against Chelsea and City, has only been put to the sword on just 9 other occasions. If Cardiff are to stay in the Premier League, Caulker will have to maintain his form and who knows, he earn a surprise call up to England’s World Cup squad.

6. Curtis Davies


Curtis Davies has slipped under the radar this season, but has been an absolute colossus for Hull at back so far. Many remain unconvinced about Curtis Davies’ ability. He is tall, gangly, awkward and immobile, some may say. So far this season he has found a way to silence his critics. I’m sure Hull fans may not have been totally convinced when Steve Bruce spent £2.25m on bringing the former Birmingham man to the club, but it is looking like a move that could well get Davies’ career back on track, after being tipped a few years ago to be a top English defender.

5. Alvaro Negredo


At the start of the season many may not have been convinced by City’s signings. I for one was convinced Negredo would be City’s best signing and so far I’m being proved right. Signed from Sevilla for £20.6m Negredo is a real handful in the air, with great technical ability, he has all the credentials to be a hit in the Premier League. With just the 4 goals in his first 11 Premier League appearances, Negredo found it tough at first, but in recent weeks has found his feet and has taken his tally to 8 goals in 15 appearances so far this season. Negredo will be key to any title threat City have this season, if him and Aguero hit it off, there will be few able to stop them.

4. Romelu Lukaku


Chelsea fans must be looking at Lukaku’s form for Everton and thinking ‘why Jose’?!

Lukaku has picked up from where he left off at last year’s loan spell with West Brom, scoring freely and being an absolute nuisance to defenders. So far 5 goals in 7 appearances have helped Everton to healthy 20 points from 11 games as Everton try to keep pace with the big boys. Last year Lukaku netted 17 times in the League for West Brom and already looks on course to at least equal that tally this season. With Lukaku scoring regularly Everton could be the dark horse for a top 4 finish.

3. Loic Remy


Loic came to the Premier League in January 2013 with QPR and failed to keep them in the Premier League. Remy has been a player on the periphery of becoming a household name for quite a while, finally now it looks like Loic Remy is starting to fulfil the potential he promised as a teenager in France. With Papiss Cisse going through a dreadful run of form, Remy has fired Newcastle into a comfortable mid table position with 7 goals in 9 games, just 4 points behind 4th place Chelsea. Once his loan spell at Newcastle finishes, I’m sure many of the top 6 clubs in England and top clubs in Europe will be taking a look at him.

2. Mesut Ozil


The signing of Mesut Ozil for £42.5m from Real Madrid has propelled Arsenal into title contenders and one of the most in form teams in Europe currently. Ozil has had a decent start to English football, chipping in with 2 goals in 4 assists from his opening 8 games, but it hasn’t just been his performances that have impressed me, it has been his mere presence. His presence has transformed Arsenal Football Club; there are not too many signings in the world who could do that to a football club. When Arsenal’s record signing really gets into the swing of things, him and Arsenal will be hard to stop.

1. Dejan Lovren


The transformation of one of the worst defences from last season to the best defence this season is due to many factors. One of those factors is the acquisition of Dejan Lovren by Pochettino from Lyon this summer for £10m. The Croat Centre Back has been in outstanding form so far this season, being part of a defence that has only conceded 5 goals in 11 games, which compared to this stage last season was 29 from the first 11, a remarkable turnaround. Of course the change in fortunes hasn’t just been because of Lovren, since Pochettino has joined the club he has really tried to sure up Southampton’s defence making it as watertight as possible, the signing of Dejan Lovren made that job easier for him. If Southampton keep up this defensive form, a place in Europe could beckon for them come May.

Thanks for reading, if you disagree, feel free to leave a comment below or follow me on twitter @lewbob91


Arsenal Season Review Part II – Offensive Analysis

Welcome to part II of my season review article. In the first part of my article I focused entirely on the defensive performance of Arsenal in 2012/2013, providing both analysis and my own opinion on our defensive frailties and achievements. This second part of the review will now focus on the offensive performance of Arsenal’s season.

The summer was a tough period for Arsenal as we lost our top scorer and best player, he who shall not be named. However we replaced him with Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla who have all played their part this season and proved to be more than useful acquisitions. Last season we managed to score 74 goals from our 38 League games, conceding 49 goals and achieving 70 points. This season we saw a small drop in goals scored, with 72, but radical improvements defensively meant just the 37 conceded, and more points gained with 73 this term. Fantastic.

Goal scoring issues

To me it was evident from the first 10 games of the season that scoring goals was going to be the challenge this season, a trait we have not come to expect from Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal sides. From our 21 victories this season, 9 of those victories came by a margin of just the 1 goal, which is fine considering 3 points are 3 points at the end of the day. However a more worrying statistic would be the fact that on 22 occasions this season we failed to score more than the one goal. On 7 occasions we failed to score completely, something I can’t remember ever happening to an Arsenal side under Arsene Wenger. Four 0-0 draws and three defeats to nil, is simply not acceptable when a team is prided upon their attacking dexterity. It was not too long ago when Arsenal FC were breaking records for consecutive games scoring goals, going to whole season without failing to score. To now fail to score in 7 games this term, is one of the major differences between us slumming it out for 4th place and challenging for the title. Manchester United incidentally only failed to score 3 times this season, Manchester City 6 times and Chelsea 5 times. Margins may be small but at the end of the season you look back at games you failed to score in and think just one goal would’ve been the difference between 1 point and 3 points or, 1 point and 0 points. If Arsenal are to challenge for the title next season they must surely find the back of the net in a higher percentage of games and have less of those detrimental goalless games.

Goal scoring record against Top 7

It is no secret that our record against the top 7 has been extremely poor this season, managing only the 11 points from 12 games. One of the main reasons for this has been our inability to score goals against the top teams. In the 12 games we only managed to score more than once 3 times, 5-2 v Spurs, 2-0 v Liverpool and 2-2 v Liverpool. 2 of the 12 games we failed to score and in the other 7 games one goal was not enough to secure us a win. For quite a few seasons now our record against our top of the table competitors has been far from good enough, to win games you must score goals, something we just don’t do enough against the top teams.

Shooting fish at the bottom of the barrel

Our main saving grace for this season has been our ability to beat teams in the bottom half the league, something traditionally under Wenger Arsenal have struggled to do. This season however we managed to assert ourselves against the bottom 13 sides, failing to win only 7 out of our 26 games, losing only twice. It was against these teams that we started to see more fluid attacking displays, which of course is to be expected. Huge wins against Southampton, Spurs, Reading x2, West Ham and Wigan really did do our ‘goals for’ column the world of good, scoring a total of 29 goals in those 6 games alone. In the remaining 32 games of the season, we managed to score 43 goals, averaging 1.3 a game. The presumption in a world full of lazy journalism and stereotypes based on previous seasons is that Arsenal struggle defensively and have no problem scoring goals, however this season has been quite the opposite, relatively sound defensively but struggling to score enough goals to really compete and dropping points because of it.

Classy Cazorla

At a period of time where it is deemed Arsenal have no world class players left, well an argument can be made for Santi Cazorla. His first season in English football has been nothing short of spectacular, producing some amazing individual performances and goals. This season saw Cazorla start off as a CAM, as the more advanced of the midfield trio. However towards the end Wenger deployed Cazorla on the LW.

  Starts Goals Assists Team Goals Win % Team Goals p/game
LW 13 4 6 19 69.2 1.46
CAM 24(1) 8 5 51 48 2.04


The change of Santi Cazorla to be played on the left wing saw a decrease in goals scored towards the end of the season; however it benefited the team as we managed to secure more victories. Wenger’s midfield trio of Rosicky, Arteta and Ramsey gave the balance defensively which enabled us to win games, albeit it by the odd goal. Whilst Cazorla may be more effective from the centre, it gives Wenger a nice problem to fix during the summer, on how to fit Cazorla in the starting XI where he will be benefiting the team both offensively and defensively.

Prolific Pod

When Podolski first joined Arsenal in the summer we were unsure whether he was bought in to play along with Van Persie or to replace him. The large majority of the season saw Podolski deployed out wide on the left where he plays for the German National Team. Podolski has been effective without setting the Premier League alight. He has become a fans favourite already with his loveable character but I’m sure there isn’t an Arsenal fan out there who doesn’t feel there is still more to come from Podolski. Blessed with a terrific strike, we have seen some fantastic goals from Podolski this season.

  Starts Goals Assists Team Goals Win % Team Goals p/game
LW 21(8) 8 9 42 51.72 1.45
CF 4 2 1 7 75 1.75


With just the 4 starts up front it’s hard to judge on whether Podolski is an answer for us up front. Personally after watching those games I don’t feel Podolski is what we need up top and is far more effective from the left. However Podolski had a tendency to go missing for the majority of his time on the pitch in quite a few games this season, whether that be because of fitness issues or what have you, Podolski was also the Premier League’s most subbed player in 2012/2013.Towards the end of the season Wenger started to bring Podolski on rather than take him off in an attempt to get something out of the game. Lukas Podolski was the 3rd most prolific striker in the Premier League this season, just behind Hernandez and Le Fondre, with a conversion rate of 20.37%. Impressive.

Productive Theo

2012/2013 certainly wasn’t a boring season for Theo Walcott, both on and off the pitch. Long periods of uncertainty over signing a new deal, as well as much publicised concerns over where he should play. Theo this season produced his best ever goal scoring season and is turning into a fantastic finisher, but is that enough to claim that spot up top?

  Starts Goals Assists Team Goals Win % Team Goals p/game
RW 19(9)) 11 10 43 57.14 1.54
CF 5 3 0 11 60 2.2


14 League goals from 24 starts is impressive stuff, 11 of which coming from the right wing. Then you add 10 assists into the mixer and only Bale (25), RVP (34) and Suarez (28) have more assists and goals combined. In his 5 games up front, we saw Theo score 3 goals but did he do enough to convince me that he has enough to lead the line? No is the answer. With Theo up front you are so limited in how you can play, he isn’t going to hold the ball up, he isn’t going to create something magical week in week out, his best position is out wide and that is where he should play.

Gorgeous Giroud

After a slow start to English football, I think we can all admit that Giroud has had a decent first season. He has shown desirable qualities for the Premier League, his hold up play is second to none and has shown great guile and deft touches in some memorable moves this season. However the question remains, is Giroud good enough to be our leading striker if we’re to challenge for the title next season?

  Starts Goals Assists Team Goals Win % Team Goals p/game
CF 23(10) 11 3 44 54.55 1.33


11 League goals and 17 in all competitions, is a tally I would’ve taken at the start of the season having not scene much of Giroud previously.  As the season wore on he definitely settled more and adjusted to the Premier League.  A worrying statistic that strikes me is that Giroud was involved in 33 of our games this season and we only scored 61% of our goals with him on the pitch, averaging just the 1.33 a game. That tells me that as an attacking outfit we seem to do better with Giroud off of the pitch. Giroud also had a good goal scoring record at the Emirates this season, scoring 10 of his 11 Premier League goals at home. Giroud is a big old fashioned target man and not your typical Arsene Wenger striker, lacking in pace and rarely getting in behind. Giroud is somebody who I’d be resorting to as a Plan B, rather than starting him week in week out as our leading striker. Arsenal’s style of football really does suit somebody who is willing to get in behind, as well as creating chances in and around the box. Giroud only ticks one of those boxes, so in my opinion if we’re going to challenge for the title next season, a leading striker should be top of our shopping list.


Everybody Else


Player Position Starts Goals Assists Team Goals Win % Team goals p/game
Chamberlain RW/LW 11(13) 1 3 26 58.33 1.08
Arshavin RW/LW 0(7) 0 0 2 14.29 0.29
Gervinho RW/LW 9(5) 1 3 11 50 0.79
Gervinho CF 4 4 0 6 25 1.5
Rosicky CAM 7 2 1 14 70 1.4
Wilshere CAM 5 0 0 5 60 1
Ramsey RW/LW 5 0 1 7 33.3 1.17


Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has had a difficult season. It is the stage of the young man’s development where he is in the process of finding out his best role and his form has dipped as a result. Whilst it may have appeared that Alex has played less, in actual fact he played more this season than he did last season. It is almost certain that Alex’s long term future at the club lies in the centre of midfield, which is where we could see more of him next season. Chamberlain’s 3 assists this season all came from the bench, where some of his best performances have been as an impact player, scaring defences with his pace and directness. Next season will be key in Chamberlain’s development, more games, more goals; more assists and more consistent performances will be the targets.

It has been announced this week that Andrey Arshavin’s time at the club has come to an end, which is hardly surprising news considering he has barely been in the team for the last 2 seasons. The magical Russian enjoyed some success, but never really hit the heights expected of him. This season he made 7 substitute appearances in the league, the last of which came in the defeat against Chelsea in January. It will be sad to see Arshavin go, but his time to go has been well overdue.

Is there another player on the planet who can look World Class and Sunday league standard all in the space of 30 seconds? Well if there isn’t then Gervinho is one of a kind. At the start of the season we saw the Ivorian played up front where he scored 4 goals and looked awesome, but then disaster struck and his form dipped drastically. Gervinho was then deployed in his usual position out on the wing, but really failed to impress, scoring just the one goal. If Arsenal are going to challenge for the title next season, either Gervinho is going to have to improve radically or we’re going to have to look elsewhere, either in house (Gnabry etc) or on the transfer market.

Tomas Rosicky for the last two seasons has been a breath of fresh air in our fight for the top 4. One can only imagine how well we could do if Rosicky managed to keep himself fit for the season. Rosicky took Cazorla’s position as the more advanced of the midfield trio, as Cazorla moved out to the left. Rosicky’s presence seemed to find the correct balance in our quest to be a more stable defensive unit, however going forward I still feel as though Rosicky has so much more to give in terms of end product. A player of his quality should be scoring far more goals than he does. If Rosicky can stay fit next season, Arsenal have a player capable of putting in a shift defensively as well as a playmaker going forward. It will be interesting to see if or how Wenger fits both Rosicky and Cazorla in the same team next season.

Everybody is aware of Jack Wilshere’s quality and potential, however there are doubts over where Jack Wilshere’s best position is. Is it as a defensive midfielder? Is it as a box to box or ball winning midfielder? Or is it playing in the advanced playmaker role behind the striker? Jack has played the majority of his comeback season in the middle with Arteta, allowing Cazorla to play in the more advanced role. Jack has played in the advanced role 5 times this season, but no consistent run in the team in that position, just a game here and there. If Wilshere’s future does lie in the advanced position he will most certainly have to improve on his final product and add more goals to his game. 0 goals and 3 assists from 20 Premier League starts is certainly something to improve on for the future. In the latter part of the season Wilshere lost his place in the team to Aaron Ramsey, with concerns over his fitness, a long summer off will definitely do Jack wonders of good.

The form Aaron Ramsey hit in 2013 was reminiscent of the form he was showing before he broke his leg in 2010. It’s been a long road back for Aaron but now it seems as though he is finally re-establishing his place in the side. In the early part of the season Wenger played Ramsey on the left wing for some of the big games, where to be honest he did quite well considering the left wing is such an unnatural position for him. Personally I’m still not convinced that Ramsey gives us anything different going forward, I certainly wouldn’t play him in the role Cazorla, Wilshere or Rosicky plays in, neither would I on the wing. The balance and work ethic he gives the team defensively means it’s hard to leave him out of centre, which leaves a nice problem for Wenger on how to set up his sides whether that be  a Conservative approach with Ramsey or added flair with Wilshere. An expected arrival of another central midfielder will also be interesting to see where everybody fill fit in.

How we scored our goals

  Home Away Total Percentage
Open Play 29 (1st) 16 (6th) 45 (4th) 63%
Counter Attack 4 (1st) 3 (3rd) 7 (1st) 10%
Set Piece 8 (4th) 4 (14th) 12 (9th) 17%
Penalties 4 (2nd) 1 (11th) 5 (3rd) 7%
Own Goals 2 (1st) 1 (11th) 3 (5th) 4%
Total 47 (1st) 25 (5th) 72 (3rd) N/A


This season we managed to score the most home goals in the Premier League, however just scoring the 25 away from home, which was the 5th most in the division. Considering Arsenal only conceded 14 goals in the League away from home, the best in the Premier League, 25 goals in our away games managed to secure us the second best away record in the league. Despite having the best home goal scoring record, conceding 23 at home meant we only had the 5th best home record in the league.

As expected we scored most of our goals from open play, however one of the biggest surprises has been the 12 goals we scored for set plays this season. The addition of Giroud has definitely aided this feat, along with the aerial presence of Mertesacker and Koscielny; we finally look like a dangerous team from set plays, something that traditionally, we’ve been accused of not defending well enough from set plays and not scoring enough from set plays. Another stereotype this new look Arsenal squad has put to bed this season.

Statistically Arsenal scored from the most counter attacks in the Premier League this season. 7 times we found the back of the net on the counter. Surprisingly however 4 of the goals from counter attacks came in home games and only 3 came in away games. Traditionally you associate playing on the counter with away games but Arsenal managed to catch teams on the counter at home more than any other team in the Premier League this season.

Where we scored the goals?

  Shots Goals
Inside 6 yard box 7% 29%
Inside 18 yard box 53% 61%
Outside Box 41% 10%


41% of our shots this season came from outside the box, so remember that next time when you criticise players for not shooting enough from outside the box, or accusing them of trying to walk the ball in to the net. Cazorla’s arrival this season is the main catalyst for this higher shots % outside the area, the little Spaniard loves a pop and has scored one or two crackers this season.

  Home Away Total
Shots p/game 18.3 (4th) 13.1 (7th) 15.7 (6th)
Shots on target p/game 6.2 (4th) 4.6 (7th) 5.4 (7th)


When were the goals scored?


Time Period (mins) Goals
0-15 9
16-30 8
31-45 11
46-60 13
61-75 13
76-90 18


Statistically Arsenal score 39% of their goals in the first half and 61% of their goals in the second half, averaging at about 53 minutes for when we score our first goal. Now that says to me that either we’re slow starters or we do a really good job of wearing the opposition down and scoring late on. Possibly a bit of both. 18 goals in the last 15 minutes of games won us countless points this season, special praise must be given to gambles in tactics and substitutions taken by Wenger, but criticism must also be given to the team for giving all of us heart problems. At home 23 of our 47 home goals this season came in the final 30 minutes, which illustrates to me a problem of struggling to break teams down for the first 60 minutes, something Wenger certainly needs to look at this summer.

Of course there is the statistic this season that when Arsenal score first we never lose, this occurred in 20/38 League games this season. Another change we’ve seen from previous years where we never seemed to be able to keep hold of a lead.

That leads us to the end of my 2 part season Review. This Arsenal team may not be as talented and as free flowing as previous Arsenal teams under Wenger, but this season we have seen many improvements in areas where we have customarily struggled. Towards the latter part of the season our performance as a defensive unit improved remarkably, our vulnerability from set plays has been eradicated, instead we look more threatening from set plays. Away from home we’ve been fantastic, we’ve shown this season we can spread the goals around rather than relying on one man, managing to actually hold on to leads when we get them. Plenty of positives can be taken from this season but of course there are areas for concern.

Despite having the 4th best goal scoring record in the League this season, I still feel we don’t score enough goals, too many games where we have failed to score in cost us valuable points. Our record against the top 7 teams must improve, in terms of points, goals and goals conceded. An added creative spark may be missing in the midfield or up front, which would enable us to break down defences earlier on in the game, rather than waiting so long for the first goal. Ultimately a decent season with lots forward to for this coming summer and the start of next season, certainly a foundation is there to build on to challenge for the title next season.

Thanks for reading.

who was the 2012/2013 Premier League’s most prolific striker?

The 2012/2013 season has now come to a close and it was a season of many goals and many great goals at that. With fantastic strikers in abundance, almost every team in the Premier League can boast of having one of the best strikers in the League. So the question remains who was the most prolific striker in the 2012/2013 Premier League season?

Here are the statistics. (5 goals minimum)

Player Apps Shots Goals Conversion Rate





Le Fondre




















Van Persie









































































































Demba Ba








































Di Santo






So here we have it, statistically with a goals to shot ratio of 22.73%, Javier Hernandez is the Premier League’s most prolific striker. However when you delve deeper into the Mexican’s season, you will see he has only started 9 Premier League games this season. So whilst 10 goals from 9 starts is commendable, 4 of those goals actually came from his 13 substitute appearances. So to call Hernandez the Premier League’s most prolific striker when he has barely played this season may not be a fair reflection.

So, we go to the next person on the list who is also somewhat of a ‘super sub’, Reading’s Adam Le Fondre. Le Fondre’s 12 goals were unable to keep Reading in the Premier League and astonishingly 8 of Le Fondre’s Premier League goals came from the bench, the most in the Premier League this season. So again I don’t think its justified on giving the award of ‘most prolific striker’ to somebody who barely starts a game.

So what I have done now is set a criterion of starting at least 20 games before you can be deemed as the Premier League’s most prolific striker. So that brings us to Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski who fits the criteria having started 25 games this season. The experienced German who is in his first season in the Premier League has played most of the season in a wide left role; however his contribution of 11 goals earns him a place on this list. A conversion rate of 20.37% means Podolski is the Premier League’s most prolific striker, scoring just over 1 in 5 of his chances on goal. Arsenal will be hoping Podolski can build on this promising goal scoring start and carry it in to next season.

Statistically Franco Di Santo is the Premier League’s least prolific striker who has scored 5 goals or more. Wigan Athletic’s Di Santo only managed to score 5 goals from his 65 shots on goal this term, not giving much support to his striking partner Arouna Kone, who had an impressive start to English football, scoring 11 goals in 32 starts. No doubt Premier League clubs will be taking an interest in him during the summer, not so much in Franco Di Santo.

Out of the Premier League newbies to score 5 or more goals this season, Le Fondre and Podolski lead the way in terms of conversion rates, with Benteke closely behind on 18.27%. Benteke’s 19 goals this term has already triggered interest all around Europe and Aston Villa will do well to keep hold of the young Belgian for next term. Another impressive newbie was Michu, who’s 18 goals showed that you don’t need to splash the cash to find quality in front of goal, Michu costing Swansea just £2m. Olivier Giroud had a slow start to English football after his summer move from Montpellier, but Arsenal will be satisfied with his 11 goal return, however will hope his 10.28% conversion rate will improve next season. Ricky Lambert has received plaudits and calls for an England cap as his first season in Premier League football secured him 14 goals, with a 16.09% conversion rate.

The top 3 goal scorers in the Premier League, Van Persie, Suarez and Bale all had the most shots on goal this season. Suarez with 187, Bale with 165 and Van Persie with 141. All 3 of these players are not renowned for being poachers, their shots on goal tally may be high, but as well as being provided with chances from their teammates, they also make their own chances and score many individual goals.

As you can see, with Manchester United having 2 players in the top 6 of the conversion table, they have simply been far more prolific than Manchester City, and anybody else for that matter this season. Manchester City’s most prolific striker was Eden Dzeko with 14.89%, only two places higher than Manchester United’s least prolific striker, who was Wayne Rooney with 13.95%. Disappointing seasons from both Aguero (13.95%) and Tevez (10.48%), who only managed to muster 23 goals between them this season compared to last season when Aguero scored 23 goals by himself alone, with contributions from Balotelli, Dzeko and Tevez.

For honourable mentions, the most prolific goal scoring midfielders table is below.

Player Apps Shots Goals Conversion Rate





























































Thanks for reading.

Follow @lewbob91 on Twitter

Arsenal Season Review Part I – Defensive Analysis

Finally after celebrating what felt like a title victory, it suddenly hit home that we had only finished fourth. However at the start of the season, I don’t think many people could have foreseen anything more. Our fantastic run towards the end of the season, really did save face and covered up many cracks in what has been an ultimately disappointing season as an Arsenal fan. However the end run has left us reeling in excitement for next season, finally feeling optimistic about the clubs future.

Second best defence in the league, and haven’t conceded a goal in open play for 9 games since Hal Robson Kanu scored against us at the end of March, certainly sounds very rosy. However early season defensive naivety certainly cost us dear in pursuing anything higher than fourth place. This article will analyse our season in the Premier League defensively, commenting on everything from the goalkeepers, to set pieces, giving statistics as well as my own opinion on our shortcomings, achievements and things to improve on for next season.

Renewed competition or a new number one still needed?

In a season where Szczesny, Mannone and Fabianski have all had at least one run in the team, the jury is still out as to whether we actually have a keeper at the club who is ready to be part of a title winning team. Szczesny undoubtedly has the potential, but at the tender age of 23, who in goalkeeping years is still a baby; mistakes still manage to creep in at vital times. Fabianski came in to replace Szczesny before getting injured and the layoff seems to have worked wonders for Szczesny who has reclaimed his number one spot again. The big question is whether Wenger should bring in an older more experienced keeper to help groom Szczesny’s future. Goalkeepers generally peak at about 27/28, so when you see a young keeper like Szczesny who is only 23, claim the number one spot without any real competition, complacency is bound to creep into a young man’s game, which we saw earlier on in the season.

Starts C/S Win % Conceded p/game
Szczesny 25 10 56 0.96
Fabianski 4 1 100 0.75
Mannone 9 3 33.3 1.22

As our defensive displays improved towards the end of the season, as did the keepers statistics. Fabianski’s run in the team produced 4 wins out of 4 and after getting injured, Szczesny kept the run going with 4 wins from the last 6, making it 10 games unbeaten, keeping 4 clean sheets along the way, making his tally go to 10 clean sheets for the season. The start of the season saw Mannone in goal, who to be fair made some fantastic saves however a few mistakes cost us a few points. Fabianski and Mannone hardly fill you with confidence when you see their names on the team sheet and I think we may have seen these two play their last games in an Arsenal shirt, as Wenger will look to bring in a new keeper to challenge and tutor Szczesny.

The Sagna situation

There can be no doubts about how great a player Bacary Sagna has been for us ever since he joined the club in 2007, establishing himself as one of the best right backs in the world. However in the last two seasons, especially this one, Sagna has found himself scrutinised for poor performances as well as concerns over his commitment to the club. On his day Sagna is still a fantastic right back and among the best, but too many times this season we have seen a Sagna who’s mind maybe elsewhere, and with his contract due to end at the end of next season and no deal being put in place, it could well be that Arsenal will have a new first choice right back next season.

The obvious person to replace Sagna would be Carl Jenkinson who many will say was unlucky to lose his place to Sagna after an impressive start to the season. Jenkinson has clearly come on leaps and bounds this season and silenced critics with great improvements defensively.

Starts C/S Win % Conceded p/game Games v Top 7
Sagna 24 8 62.5 1.08 8
Jenkinson 14 6 42.8 0.78 4

Both Sagna and Jenkinson had sustained runs in the team. Jenkinson’s run came at the start of the season whilst Sagna was injured and was part of an Arsenal defence who found it easy to keep clean sheets in the beginning, but the team weren’t winning enough games.  Jenkinson then lost his place to Sagna, where  we started to win more games but conceded more along the way. It came at a time where Arsenal was going through an inconsistent phase through the season. Arsenal this season have only lost 3 games in which Sagna has started, Sagna having the highest win % ratio of any player in the Arsenal team bar Monreal and Rosicky. The statistics show that even though individually Sagna may not have had the best of seasons, he is a vital element of a winning Arsenal team. Wenger will have to work hard to keep Sagna at the club, or look for a suitable replacement, as it still could be too soon for a Carl Jenkinson full season.

Gibbs v Monreal

When both players are fit, Wenger seems to prefer Gibbs over Monreal, but I suppose that has a lot to do with Monreal’s adjustment period to the Premier League, going with Gibbs who has far more Premier League experience than Monreal. However next season the Gibbs v Monreal debate could prove to be quite intriguing. Here we have two very different left backs, one being very quick, athletic and willing to bust a gut to get forward, and another who is more tactile, methodical and technical. Different opponents could suit different players, but at the moment I don’t think a single Arsenal fan would disagree with Gibbs as being the most improved player at the club this season and very worthy of being the first choice left back at the club.

Starts C/S Win % Conceded p/game Games v Top 7 Goals Assists
Gibbs 23 8 52.1 1.04 9 0 3
Monreal 9 5 88.9 0.55 1 1 1

The statistics show Monreal’s impressive start to his Arsenal career, with 8 wins in his 9 appearances this season. However against Spurs he showed the he hasn’t yet acclimatised to the speed of English football yet, which is why in more recent games against top 7 teams, Wenger has decided to go with Gibbs. From the left hand side we look far better offensively than we do with our right full backs, with both Gibbs and Monreal chipping in with goals and assists. All in all a very nice problem for Wenger to have next season down the left hand side.

World class Kosc

I’ve been saying since last season that Koscielny needs to be the first name on the team sheet. The man is immense and is naturally one of the best defenders I have ever seen. Quick, strong, agile, a striker rarely gets the better of Koscielny, as RVP found out this season. It is no coincidence that our improved defensive record towards the end of the season came about as Koscielny was a regular starter.

Starts C/S Win % Conceded p/game Games v Top 7
Koscielny 20 7 55 0.85 6

All in all the statistics don’t paint a mind blowing picture of Koscielny’s role in the side this season. But upon closer reflection when you consider that Arsenal have only lost twice whilst Koscielny has started this season, you have to wonder how Wenger managed to keep Koscielny out of the team for half the season. Koscielny could be the one world class player we could lose this summer, hopefully Wenger will do enough to keep him to ward off interest from top clubs who will inevitably enquiring about Laurent.

Dependable Mert

A lot of Non-Arsenal fans as well as Arsenal fans still have their reservations about the BFG, still too slow, still not mobile enough, still a liability. I was one of those people up until about mid-way through last season. Mertesacker’s positional prowess and sense of awareness is remarkable and when partnered suitably, has proved he really is up there with the Premier League’s best.

Starts C/S Win % Conceded p/game Games v Top 7
Mertesacker 33 14 60.6 0.9 12

Unlike Koscielny, these set of statistics do paint a great picture for Mertesacker, and show how much of an important factor Mertesacker has been to Arsenal having the second best defensive record in the Premier League.

Vulnerable Vermaelen

The normally dependable Vermaelen has had his poorest season to date since signing for Arsenal. With many individual errors creeping into his game, the captain has since lost his place in team. Vermaelen made the most individual errors leading to goals for any outfielder in the Premier League this season (3).

Starts at CB C/S Win % Conceded p/game Games v Top 7
Vermaelen 23 6 56.5 1.26 8

On his day I’m a great fan of Vermaelen, the passion he shows from match to match is unrivalled. I just feel however that sometimes that same passion, that desire to do so well, hinders his game and this is where mistakes start to happen. Vermaelen’s leadership skills are unquestionable, however his displays of late mean he longer gets away with playing just because he is the club captain. Not a bad back up centre half to have though, however will that spur Vermaelen on to get his place back or will he look to go elsewhere for regular football.

The Unbeatable partnership

After starting 15 games together in the Premier League this season, Koscielny and Mertesacker remain unbeaten as a pair this season. An incredible feat which features 9 wins and 6 draws with only 9 goals conceded. 5 of those 15 games came against sides in the top 7. Surely this partnership is key to Arsenal’s title chances next season, if Koscielny and Mertesacker can keep fit and maintain their impressive form, Arsenal defensively could be a force to be reckoned with next season.

Starts C/S Win % Conceded p/game Games v top 7
Verm/Kosc 5 0 80 1.8 2
Verm/Mert 17 6 58.8 1.12 5
Mert/Kosc 15 7 60 0.6 5

The partnership of Vermaelen and Mertesacker doesn’t fill me with confidence, despite having a good win % ratio. Vermaelen certainly doesn’t bring out the best in Mertesacker like Koscielny does. Whilst Koscielny and Vermaelen on paper would be a dream partnership, it just doesn’t seem to click. Maybe because they are too similar to each other and both want to play as the ball winner, whereas Mertesacker plays as a covering centre back allowing either Koscielny or Vermaelen to be the ball winner. If Wenger can keep hold of both Koscielny and Vermaelen and add a decent 4th choice centre back to the ranks, then Arsenal will have a good crop of defenders to choose from.

Arteta’s influence

Mikel Arteta has been an integral part of Arsenal defence ever since he joined the club in 2011. Arteta’s presence is sorely missed every time he is injured and is probably the only man in the squad, except possibly Cazorla, who is guaranteed to be on the team sheet. When Arteta came off midway through the first half against Newcastle, we all felt the loss in midfield, and shows how important he is to the team that Wenger would start him knowing that he was nowhere near fit.

Starts C/S Win % Conceded p/games Games v top 7
With Arteta 34 14 58.8 0.88 9
Without Arteta 4 0 25 1.75 3

Although Arteta was only missing for 4 games this season, the absence was key; winning only 1 of those 4 games he was missing, conceding 7 goals. Next season will probably see the introduction of a new DM, relieving an ageing Arteta from playing almost every single game, giving Arteta the role of playing in games where we have to be formidable defensively. Having Arteta as a defensive option coming on from the bench would be fantastic, as well as having the option to playing 2 defensive midfielders in games we need to.

Midfielder’s defensive contribution

Starts C/S Win % Conceded p/games Games v top 7
Ramsey (as CM) 18 7 66.6 0.72 4
Wilshere 20 6 55 1.2 8
Rosicky 7 3 85.7 0.57 1
Coquelin 3 0 33.3 2 1
Diaby 10 5 40 0.6 4

Above are the statistics of all the players who have played as the two more defensive central midfielders this season, Cazorla not included as he normally plays as a CAM or out wide. The one player who really does stand out is Aaron Ramsey. Whether you think he is good enough or not, you can’t deny Ramsey’s outstanding record whilst in the team this season when playing through the middle. Out of his 18 games started through the middle, Arsenal have only suffered 2 defeats and conceded only 13 goals.

The trio of Rosicky, Ramsey and Arteta have certainly been a major part of Arsenal’s strong finish defensively. Rosicky has been absolutely outstanding towards the end of the season, instrumental in 6 wins and with some fantastic eye catching individual performances, notably the games against Manchester United at home and Bayern Munich away. If only we could keep him fit for the whole season.

Speaking of another injury prone central midfielder, Abou Diaby started off brightly before injury once again wrecked his season, sadly for the last time in my opinion, as I can’t see Diaby returning in an Arsenal shirt after this latest injury. Diaby’s contribution earlier on in the season defensively was there for everybody to see, when fit Diaby has to play. When Diaby came off against Chelsea after 17 minutes at the Emirates earlier on in this season, you could see the hole that had been left from his absence. A new defensive midfielder in a Diaby mould (just less injury prone) would do Arsenal wonders next season and would aid Arteta greatly.

This season saw the return of Jack Wilshere and whilst his defensive stats may not look that impressive, Arsenal fans know that Wilshere’s greatest talents lie going forward. However with the trio of Rosicky, Ramsey and Arteta doing so well, the latest absence of Wilshere hasn’t been felt at all. This leaves Wenger with a nice problem next season in terms of finding the right balance in midfield with so many options available to him. Personally I feel Wilshere’s best position is playing as the attacking midfielder of the 3 in the centre, the role in which Rosicky has been occupying in recent weeks.

Improved Set Pieces

We have earned ourselves a stereotype of being poor at defending set plays. Over the past few years Arsenal haven’t covered themselves in glory, even the laziest journalists and armchair supporters know that Arsenal in recent history have been weak at defending set plays. However the introduction of Oliver Giroud in defending corners and free kicks have seen radical improvements. With Giroud on the pitch I feel so comfortable with defending corners and free kicks, so much so that when he doesn’t play I get nervous every time the opposition gets a set play The statistics certainly support that, whilst Giroud has been on the pitch Arsenal have only conceded 2 goals from corners and 1 goal from an indirect free kick. Arsenal in total have only conceded 3 goals from corners and 3 goals from indirect free kicks this season, 2 of them coming in the same match against Chelsea at home (incidentally Giroud was not on the pitch at the time). 6 goals conceded from set plays in total, a further 2 were conceded from direct free kicks, surely must be down to the influence of Steve Bould and the presence of Oliver Giroud, who seems to be a ball magnet when the ball is in the air.

Areas for concern

It’s easy to look at the last day of the season and get carried away with the proceedings, at the end of the day we still finished 4th in the League and the last 10 games of the League season really did paper over the cracks of the 28 games previous to that. Hopefully we are beginning to learn from the mistakes that almost deprived us of Champions League football next season.

Individual errors cost us dearly this season, only Liverpool conceded more goals from individual errors this season than us according to @orbinho. 10 goals conceded from individual errors, as well as 5 goals conceded from penalties, in the early part of the season we certainly had ourselves to blame for dropped points. If we are to challenge for the title next season we really do need to cut down the individual errors and give away less penalties, 7 in total were conceded this season.

Our defensive records against the top 7 must also improve. In games against Chelsea (A), Liverpool (H), City (H), Spurs (A) and United (A) we went 2 goals down, which is completely unacceptable if you want to challenge for titles. Winning games against the top 7 is hard enough without giving them early 2-0 leads.  Only in 3 out of the 12 League games against top 7 sides did we take the lead, against Everton (A), Liverpool (A) and United (H). 59% of the goals we concede occur in the first half.

Another area of concern would be our knack of conceding goals just before the half time whistle. We’ve conceded 10 goals in the 30-45 minute time zone this season, either allowing the opponent to take a half time lead or to go in level after scoring first. These lapses in concentration have been costly this season in terms of giving the opponent momentum.

A persistent problem in the early part of the season was the defensive structure when we were being counter attacked. Statistically we only conceded 3 goals from counter attacks this season, however it could have been far more if the opposition in some games had been more clinical. In recent games it has been less of a problem since defensive structure has improved from front to back, however the game against United showed we can still be vulnerable on the counter attack. Something for Wenger to work on.

All in all I think Steve Bould has a lot to be proud of in his first season as Arsenal assistant manager. As we know Arsene Wenger isn’t exactly the most defensive orientated coach and you can certainly see the influence of Bould in this latest Arsenal defensive structure. Some of the goals we were conceding in the early and middle part of the season would’ve made Bould pull his hair out, if he had any to pull out of course. We seem to be defending more as a team now, the midfield are  doing their job, no doubt the influence of Rosicky in there who has been a colossus towards the end of the season has aided that. When the midfield is doing their job, it gives the defence confidence and relief, thus alleviating the possibilities of individual errors, that we saw so many of in the first 2/3’s of the season.

Below is a table of our top defensive performers in different categories this season. (Stats taken from whoscored.com)

1st 2nd 3rd
Interceptions p/game Arteta (2.9) Monreal (2.5) Gibbs (2.4)
Tackles p/game Arteta (3.2) Gibbs (2.8) Jenkinson (2.3)
Clearances p/game Koscielny (4.9) Mertesacker (4.8) Vermaelen (4.5)
Blocked shots p/game Vermaelen (0.7) Mertesacker (0.6) Koscielny (0.4)
Offsides won p/game Koscielny (1.3) Mertesacker (1.1) Vermaelen (0.7)

Thank you for reading, please stay tuned for the next part of the article, which will focus on our attacking performances this season.

Follow @lewbob91 on Twitter

Stats in this blog have either been of my own or via whoscored.com

10 Transfer Deadline Day Deals?

The Transfer Window officially closes in just over a week, we are now entering into the time period where teams will be rushing through signings to make sure they are completed before the deadline. The first round of Premier League fixtures would’ve paid dividends to a lot of managers Transfer plans on where they need to strengthen and where they are the strongest.

It has been a long Transfer Window so far, many moves, many hundreds of millions spent, but the spending is not just about to stop there. In this article we are going to look at 10 players who could be set for a Transfer Deadline Day move away from their club.

Fernando Llorente

The big Spanish striker has made it clear he wants to leave Atletico Bilbao thus attracting a string of European clubs. The favourites are Juventus who seem to have been linked with pretty much every want away striker across Europe. However there has been a number of Premier League clubs also interested in Llorente, including Arsenal and Spurs. Spurs are another club who have pretty much been linked with every striker under the sun, however the asking price, wages and temptation of Champions League football will jeopardise Spurs’ move for him. Wenger has already stated he will not be replacing Van Persie, but if he was to pull a surprise move for Llorente, then it would be a fantastic acquisition for Arsenal.

My Prediction – Llorente to Juventus

Sky Bet Odds – Juventus 2/5, Spurs 3/1, Arsenal 7/1

Nicklas Bendtner

Now what would the Transfer Window be like without ‘one of the best strikers in the world’ being linked with a move away from his current club. Well we are talking about Nicklas Bendtner and whilst he has grown a reputation for being a bit of an ignoramus, Bendtner would still be a quality striker for any club. Bendtner claims there is a lot of interest in him, however how true that is I’m not sure, surely he would’ve moved by now if that was the case. Clubs such as AC Milan, Galatasaray and a host of Premier League clubs have been linked with the Big Dane.

My Prediction – Bendtner to AC Milan

Sky Bet Odds – AC Milan 4/7, Galatasaray 7/2, Sunderland 5/1

Yann M’Vila

The tall gangly Frenchman looked to have been set for a move to Arsenal, then speculation claimed Wenger was no longer interested and now further speculation has claimed Arsenal are back in for him for a lower asking price than before. Well certainly something is not going to plan otherwise Wenger would’ve signed M’Vila already. Spurs have been linked with the defensive midfielder as well as Manchester United. It does look like a two horse race between Arsenal and Spurs, a race that is set to go to the wire, especially if Tottenham sell Modric and have funds to play with.

My Prediction – M’Vila to Arsenal

Sky Bet Odds – Arsenal 4/9, Tottenham 13/8, Manchester United 16/1

Victor Moses

Chelsea’s interest in Victor Moses is no secret, however the hold up in the deal would’ve raised some eyebrows. Claims suggest Chelsea are not matching Wigan’s valuation of the wide man. Chelsea would have got a further look at Moses as he impressed against them over the weekend. There doesn’t seem to be any other interested parties, it just comes down to whether Chelsea are going to meet Wigan’s demands and push this transfer through in time.

My Prediction – Moses to Chelsea

Sky Bet Odds – Chelsea 1/8

Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani is another striker that has been linked with a host of clubs across Europe. After impressing in recent seasons for Napoli, Cavani has certainly become hot property. Chelsea, Manchester City, Juventus, Inter Milan and PSG have all been linked to the Uruguayan striker. However the front runners do seem to be Chelsea, City and Juventus. However City have enough strikers already, but with Aguero injury fears may be tempted into the market, Juventus seem too interested in Llorente, so that just leaves Chelsea. It all depends on whether Chelsea wants to match Napoli’s reported asking price of £32m.

My Prediction – Cavani to Chelsea

Sky Bet Odds – Chelsea 8/11, Manchester City 6/1, Juventus 7/1


The former Brazilian World Player of the Year has failed to hit the heights he reached at AC Milan. Real Madrid spent a small fortune bringing him to the club but injury and lack of playing time has hindered the Brazilian’s success. Kaka has thus fallen out of favour at Real Madrid and Mourinho has told Kaka he can move on. Not too many clubs would turn down the chance to sign Kaka, however his valuation and wages would come at a heavy price, a heavy price that not many clubs could afford. Speculation last week suggested United were seriously considering bringing Kaka to the club.

My Prediction – Kaka to AC Milan

Sky Bet Odds – AC Milan 5/6, Manchester United 5/6, PSG 20/1

Daniel Agger

Many people are suggesting that Agger has played his last game in a Liverpool shirt. After continuous speculation linking the Big Dane to Manchester City, it looks as though we could be seeing Agger in a City shirt next season. Daniel Agger is one of the best centre backs across Europe and was part of the Liverpool defence that really impressed last season. Barcelona have also been linked with Agger but after signing Song, who could provide defensive cover, signing Agger would be unlikely.

My Prediction – Agger to Manchester City

Sky Bet Odds – Manchester City 4/7, Barcelona 6/4, Real Madrid 13/2


Another striker that has been linked heavily with Chelsea this season, one minute it was reported the deal was signed, sealed and delivered, the next minute Chelsea had revoked their interest. Porto is asking for a huge transfer fee and is certainly testing Chelsea’s resolve. If this deal was to go through, I could see it being a huge deal being done right at the last minute of deadline day, it would be some move if it did happen.

My Prediction – Hulk staying at Porto

Sky Bet Odds – Chelsea 1/2

Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey seems destined to wear the Liverpool shirt next season. However after the calamitous scandal of announcing the player on the owner’s website before a deal had been struck, it is clear the two clubs are someway apart at the moment. After Fulham’s 5-0 win at the weekend, they will be quite keen to keep Dempsey. However a move to Liverpool would be hard to turn down for the American, but Fulham certainly do not have to sell. Looks set for Deadline Day.

My Prediction – Dempsey to Liverpool

Sky Bet Odds – Liverpool 1/4, Arsenal 9/2, Everton 10/1

Edin Dzeko

Speculation has surrounded Dzeko’s future especially around the time when City looked set to sign Robin van Persie. However now Van Persie has moved to the other side of Manchester Dzeko looks set to stay at City. However could City be tempted by an offer for Dzeko? AC Milan, Spurs and Juventus have all been linked with the Bosnian international, AC Milan being the favourites whilst trying to replace the void left by Ibrahimovic.

My Prediction – Staying at City

Sky Bet Odds – AC Milan 6/4, Tottenham 4/1, Juventus 8/1

Thanks for reading, make sure to leave comments and feedback

15 transfers that shocked English Football

Amidst further speculation over Robin Van Persie’s future, the question on everybody’s lips in world football is, ‘are Arsenal going to let their best player join their fierce rivals Manchester United?’

If Van Persie was to join Manchester United it wouldn’t be the first time a player has decided to shift loyalties and join a major rival to their previous club. This article is going to look back at the 15 most controversial, mind boggling, ‘oh my days did he really do that’ transfers across English Football in recent years.

Sol Campbell – Spurs to Arsenal, 2001, Free Transfer

In what was the highest profile Bosman ruling free transfer at the time, the transfer become even more high profile due to the fact a player from Spurs was about to join arch rivals Arsenal. Not only that, it became even more controversial due to the fact that Sol Campbell was at the time the captain of Spurs. It’s fair to say that the transfer made Sol Campbell the most hated man at White Hart Lane, despite going on to great things at Arsenal, the transfer saga will always be a distinct memory of Campbell’s career.

Carlos Tevez – Manchester United to Manchester City, 2009, £25,000,000

A transfer from Manchester United to Manchester City say 10 years ago would’ve been a small deal in the grand scheme of things. However in 2009 where Manchester City, backed by Arab billionaires were rapidly becoming a new rival to Manchester United’s dominance of the Premier League, a transfer between the two clubs caused absolute mayhem across England and the world. Carlos Tevez helped United to back to back titles, but speculation surrounding his happiness at the club opened up the door for a Manchester City move, after Tevez’ contract at United had run its course.

Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea, 2011, £50,000,000

Fernando Torres quickly became a fans favourite at Anfield and scored 81 goals in 142 appearances for the club. However Torres soon had his sights set on a move elsewhere and after months of speculation, Chelsea tabled a mammoth British record transfer fee to sign the Spaniard. £50m was just too hard for Liverpool to turn down, even to Chelsea one of their biggest Premier League rivals.

Juan Sebastian Veron – Manchester United to Chelsea, 2003, £15,000,000

The Argentinian superstar joined Manchester United at the time for a record British transfer fee of £28.1m in 2001. Veron failed to set the Premier League alight and his spell at Old Trafford was plagued with injuries and disappointing performances. Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Veron as a ‘f*cking great player’ when questioned over the players performances and expensive transfer fee paid for him. However Chelsea came knocking for Veron in 2003 and United decided to cut their losses and sell him for a cut price £15m. Veron somehow managed to disappoint more at Chelsea then he did at United, managing only 14 appearances at his time at Stamford Bridge, before finally being sold in 2007.

Andy Cole – Newcastle United to Manchester United, 1995, £7,000,000

Now, a player moving from Newcastle United to Manchester United in 2012 may not seem a big deal, however in 1995 where Newcastle had been competing with Man Utd for the title, Newcastle decided to sell their star striker to their main rival’s mid-way through the season. A transfer that shocked The Premier League, it seemed inconceivable that a team challenging for the title would sell their best striker to a title rival half way through the season. Blackburn Rovers piped Manchester United to the title that season, however Newcastle finished 6th and would live to regret selling Andy Cole in future seasons.

Ashley Cole – Chelsea to Arsenal, 2006, £5,000,000 + William Gallas

A transfer that really fuelled the ‘tapping up’ saga that was spreading across World Football, the Ashley Cole transfer stunk to high heaven of ‘tapping up’ something that Arsenal and the Premier League decided to deal with legally. Ashley Cole, Chelsea and Chelsea officials were fined for their part in the saga, however in 2006 Ashley Cole was eventually sold on deadline day. Chelsea had got their man, Ashley Cole had got the move he wanted, and Arsenal got a temperamental Frenchmen in William Gallas, who would go onto more transfer controversy in a few years time.

Samir Nasri – Arsenal to Manchester City, 2011, £25,000,000

Samir Nasri joined Arsenal with huge expectation on his shoulders, some touting him as the next Zinedine Zidane. However it took Nasri a few years to consistently reach his potential, by this time Arsenal had allowed Nasri’s contract to run down till its final year. All of a sudden alarm bells rung as Manchester United and Manchester City engaged in a bidding war to secure the signature of Samir Nasri, after the Frenchman had signalled his intent to leave the club after not winning any trophies. Manchester City prevailed in the signing of Samir Nasri and won the Premier League Trophy in his first season at the club.

Emmanuel Adebayor – Arsenal to Manchester City, 2009, £25,000,000

Emmanuel Adebayor joined Arsenal from Monaco in 2006 as a relative unknown. Adebayor frustrated the Arsenal faithful by showing momentary glimpses of sheer quality but then letting the team down with poor performances and bad attitude. Adebayor had signalled his intent to leave Arsenal and this made the Arsenal fans even more angry, even booing Adebayor whilst he was still playing for the club. Adebayor became one of 4 Arsenal players to join Manchester City in recent years, Adebayor was banned after his goal scoring celebration against Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. However Adebayor soon become surplus to requirements at City. The transfer fiasco didn’t end there as Adebayor then moved on loan to Arsenal’s arch rivals Tottenham, a move that could yet be made permanent.

Denis Law – Manchester United to Manchester City, 1973, Free Transfer

The Manchester United folk hero and second all-time greatest goal scorer for the club, first started off his career at Huddersfield Town before moving to Manchester City. Manchester United then bought Law from City in 1962. Law went on to have a magical 11 years at the club, winning two League Titles, a European Cup and also being crowned European Footballer of the Year. In 1973 Law decided to leave Manchester United and join Manchester City again. Denis Law was on the decline as a footballer, however on the last game of the 1973-1974 season Denis Law’s back heel against United gave City a 1-0 victory, a victory that would see Law’s old team United relegated to the Old Second Division. From hero to Villain in an instant.

John Obi Mikel – Lynn Oslo to Chelsea, 2006, £20,000,000 (approx.)

Alleged kidnapping, dodgy agents, suspended prison sentences and deals being done without permission. The transfer of John Obi Mikel to Chelsea will always be remembered for the controversy surrounding it. The Nigerian star was highly sought after in 2006, Manchester United believed they had a deal agreed for Mikel, however Chelsea then also said they had a deal in place with Mikel. Chelsea ended up paying Manchester United to drop their end of the deal, one of many controversial transfer dealings Chelsea had found themselves part of at the start of the Abramovic era.

Nick Barmby – Everton to Liverpool, 2000, £6,000,000

Nick Barmby became the first player since 1959 to be sold from Everton to Liverpool. A fee of £6m was agreed for the Barmby who had spent 4 years at Everton. Manchester United expressed an interest in signing Barmby, however Liverpool outbid them and Barmby went on to spend 2 years at Anfield before moving to Leeds United.

Eric Cantona – Leeds United to Manchester United, 1992, £1,200,000

After winning the title at Elland Road with Leeds United, Eric Cantona was sold to Manchester United the very next season. A strange transfer as United had once again managed to coup one of their title rivals best players. Leeds United had originally enquired about signing Dennis Irwin from Manchester United, however Ferguson rejected any notion Irwin could leave and decided two can play that game, consequently bidding for Eric Cantona and Leeds United actually accepted. Eric Cantona went on to win 4 league titles and Leeds United has never won a title since.

William Gallas – Arsenal to Spurs, 2010, Free Transfer

After already being involved in one transfer saga from one rival to another, William Gallas then went on to a new venture around London by joining Spurs after rejecting a new deal at Arsenal. Gallas had an up and down time at Arsenal, how a move to Spurs is unlikely to do him any favours in regards to his popularity at the Emirates Stadium

Alan Smith – Leeds United to Manchester United, 2004, £7,000,000

In 2007 Alan Smith was one of the hottest properties in English football, he was part of a hugely talented Leeds United squad that hit financial difficulty and eventually got relegated in 2003/2004. Leeds United faced going into administration and famous pictures of Alan Smith crying as his boy hood club got relegated on the last day of the season. The rivalry was huge between Leeds United and Manchester United, however Alan Smith was faced with the daunting decision of choosing to stay at the club of his life and allowing them to go into Administration, or joining Arch Rivals Manchester United, with transfer fee rescuing Leeds United. Smith chose to move to United and even waived his personal transfer fee, this didn’t stop Leeds United fans feeling betrayed by Alan Smith.

Lee Clarke – Newcastle United to Sunderland, 1997, £2,500,000

Lee Clarke was born in Newcastle and came through the youth ranks at Newcastle and spent 7 years at Newcastle, helping them to two runner up positions in the Premier League. In 1997 Lee Clarke moved to local rivals and arch nemesis Sunderland in a £2.5m deal. After 2 years helping Sunderland to the Premier League, Lee Clarke was then dropped from the team, never to play again after being spotted with Newcastle fans wearing a T-Shirt with a derogatory slogan towards Sunderland. Lee Clarke then joined Fulham and returned to his boyhood club Newcastle in 2005.

Could Robin Van Persie be another name added to this illustrious list of players joining arch rivals in the Premier League, it’s happened before, could it happen again?

Thanks for reading, feedback and comments would be greatly appreciated.


Is The Grass Always Greener After Leaving Arsenal?

It may not seem like it now but the new season is just round the corner, this time next month there will be just a week to go until the end of the Transfer Window. It is arguably the most exciting time of the season, a new season approaching, hundreds of rumours linking your club with the hottest talents in the world and lots of pre-season football to see how your team is preparing for the new season. However for Arsenal fans, this period in recent years has not been a time for excitement, in fact I know many Arsenal fans who have become disillusioned by the thought of the Transfer Window, and this year has been no different for them.

Arsenal fans are about to suffer yet another heartbreak in losing their talisman and arguably best player Robin van Persie. The Dutchman enters his final year of contract and released a public statement declaring he will not be signing a new deal. This has sparked a bidding war, with Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus all lodging bids for the much sought after striker. This will not be the first important player Arsenal have lost and certainly won’t be the last, however how many players actually go onto to do better things after leaving Arsenal. In this article I will be looking over some of the huge names to have left the Gunners during Arsene Wenger’s era and analysing whether they made the right career decision.

Nicolas Anelka

Bought for – £0.5m                          Sold for – £23m                 Profit/Loss – +£22.5m

Trophies at Arsenal – 3                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 7

The young Frenchman was bought by Wenger in his first full season as manager of the club, setting the Premier League alight in his second season at the club. This led to a big money move to Real Madrid which at the time was Arsenal’s record transfer fee received. Arsenal did not miss Anelka, his replacement was a certain Mr Thierry Henry. However Anelka has gone onto magnificent things in his career, including a Champions League title. Anelka now being at his 8th team since leaving Arsenal in 1999, probably should have gone on to do even more but constant big money transfers have not allowed him to do so.

Right Career move – Yes

Marc Overmars & Emmanuel Petit

Bought for – £7m & £2.5m            Sold for – £25m & £5m   Profit/Loss – +£18m & £2.5m

Trophies at Arsenal – 4& 4         Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 0 & 0

The Dutchman is regarded as one of the best wingers to have ever graced the Premier League and the Frenchman forged a remarkable partnership in the Centre of midfield with Patrick Vieira. After playing 3 seasons for Arsenal, Barcelona came knocking for both Overmars and Petit in a joint deal worth £30,000,000. Both joined Barcelona during a time where the Catalonia giants were suffering financial trouble, neither went on to win a major trophy during their spells there. In fact both players ever went on to win a trophy after leaving Arsenal, both of their careers ending prematurely.

Right Career move – No

Patrick Vieira

Bought for – £3.5m                          Sold for – £13.7m                              Profit/Loss – +£10.2m

Trophies at Arsenal – 11               Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 7

Widely regarded as a Premier League great, the lanky Frenchman won 11 trophies at Arsenal including two doubles. However year after year Vieira flirted with departure from the club, with constant speculation about his future. Sound familiar? Arsenal managed to keep their key group of players together for a number of years after the departure of Petit and Overmars, which was their golden era. Vieira eventually left for Juventus where he was part of the team involved in the match fixing scandal, Vieira then moved to Inter and finished his career at Man City. Vieira never went on to hit the heights he reached at Arsenal, probably a move he regrets.

Right Career move – No

Ashley Cole

Bought for – Trainee                       Sold for – £5m + Gallas                   Profit/Loss – +£5m

Trophies at Arsenal – 7                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 9

When Ashley Cole left Arsenal he quickly become a hated figure at the club, in a transfer that was thought to have involved tapping up and stunk to high heaven of dodgy business, Cole left Arsenal to join Chelsea and their mega dosh. Ashley Cole quickly cemented his place as one of the best left backs in the world, winning the Champions League and winning multiple league titles. Despite having a successful career at Arsenal and being part of the invincible team, it can’t be doubted that Cole has gone to onto greater things since leaving Arsenal.

Right Career move – Yes

Thierry Henry

Bought for – £10.5m                        Sold for – £16.1m                              Profit/Loss – +£5.6m

Trophies at Arsenal – 7                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 8

Possibly the greatest player the Premier League has ever seen, Thierry Henry was bought by Wenger as an inconsistent kid with all the ability in the world. Thierry Henry has made himself an Arsenal icon and literally made himself irreplaceable. His move to Barcelona had been coming after years of speculation, The Champions League crown eluded him year after year the time was right for him to leave the Emirates and join the Spanish giants, where he finally won the Champions League. Henry never really hit the heights he did at Arsenal but still managed to win 8 trophies, including one in the USA for New York Red Bulls. Since Henry’s departure Arsenal have gone on a trophy dry streak and a mass exodus of big names departing the club.

Right Career move – Yes

Jose Antonio Reyes

Bought for – £13m                            Sold for – £8m                    Profit/Loss – -£5m

Trophies at Arsenal – 3                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 5

The Spanish wonder kid was bought from Sevilla on huge promise, blessed with all the talent in the world the Spaniard failed to acclimatize to the English game. A loan spell to Real Madrid and then eventually a permanent move to Atletico Madrid sealed the end of Reyes’ career in the Premier League. Reyes never really went to fulfil the world class potential he had shown in his younger days at Arsenal and Sevilla

Right Career move – No

Mathieu Flamini

Bought for – £1m                              Sold for – Free                   Profit/Loss – -£1m

Trophies at Arsenal – 2                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 2

The tenacious Frenchman was on the fringes of Arsenal Football Club for a few seasons before injuries allowed him to state his claim for a place in the team. Flamini and Fabregas were immense together in the middle of the park, but unfortunately Flamini was allowed to leave on a free because his contract was up. Flamini decided against staying at the Emirates and chose to move to AC Milan. Flamini become a squad player for Milan and whilst he won 2 trophies, he has not yet set the Italian league alight.

Right Career move- No

Alexander Hleb

Bought for – £11m                            Sold for – £11m                 Profit/Loss – £0

Trophies at Arsenal – 0                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 4

Alexander Hleb whilst world class on his day was a hugely frustrating player accused of lacking a final product in terms of goals and assists. The Belarusian was sold to Barcelona after a few years at the club, a transfer that raised a few eye brows. Although Hleb has gone onto win 4 trophies since leaving Arsenal, he has hardly gone onto bigger and better things, hardly figuring in Barcelona’s team. Hleb currently plays for Russian team Krylia Sovetov after loan spells at Birmingham City, Wolfsburg and Stuttgart.

Right Career move – No

Kolo Toure

Bought for – £0.15m                        Sold for – £16m                 Profit/Loss – +£15.85m

Trophies at Arsenal – 5                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 2

Kolo Toure left Arsenal for a new challenge which was understandable for a player who achieved so much at the club and is a fan’s favourite. £16m was certainly fantastic business for a player who had fallen out of favour at Arsenal and had shown signs of decline as a player. Toure has gone onto win 2 trophies at Man City in 3 seasons at the club. However Toure may of played his last game for Man City as speculation surrounds his future at the club. Whilst Toure has won the league with Man City, Toure never really managed to reach the form he displayed in his days at Arsenal.

Right Career move – Yes

Emmanuel Adebayor

Bought for – £7m                              Sold for – £25m                 Profit/Loss – +£18m

Trophies at Arsenal – 0                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 1

Emmanuel Adebayor quickly became a hated figure at Arsenal Football Club, even while playing for the club he was not a fans favourite. Adebayor moved to Man City in 2009 and failed to win a trophy. Adebayor has had loan spells at Real Madrid and Tottenham, winning the Copa Del Rey at Real Madrid. Adebayor’s career has failed to take off, big wage demands have hindered the player’s judgement in making the right moves to him.

Right Career move – No

Gael Clichy

Bought for – £0.25m                        Sold for – £7m                    Profit/Loss – +£6.75m

Trophies at Arsenal – 3                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 1

A move similar to Kolo Toure’s to Manchester City, Gael Clichy moved onto a new challenge after spending 8 years at Arsenal. Clichy had also started to show signs of decline at Arsenal, falling out of favour in the French National team also, so the £7m fee was seen as good business for Arsenal. Clichy had a good first season at Man City winning the title, but was not a first team regular, mainly being rotated with Kolarov. However he left Arsenal for a new challenge and certainly found it at Man City.

Right Career move – Yes

Cesc Fabregas

Bought for – Trainee                       Sold for – £30m                 Profit/Loss – +£30m

Trophies at Arsenal – 2                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 4

The transfer of Fabregas to Barcelona would not have surprised many Arsenal fans, Fabregas always made it clear that he would move back to his homeland one day. One thing that would’ve angered Arsenal fans was the way Fabregas handled the situation, refusing to play for the club meaning Arsenal could only claim around £30m for him. Fabregas enjoyed a decent run in the Barca team but it was a disappointing season for Barcelona. Fabregas actually won 4 trophies for Barcelona last season, however 3 of the competitions Barcelona had already qualified to be in the final for before Fabregas even arrived.

Right Career move – Too Early to decide

Samir Nasri

Bought for – £16m                            Sold for – £25m                                Profit/Loss – +£9m

Trophies at Arsenal – 0                 Trophies after leaving Arsenal – 1

The Samir Nasri saga evolved around another contract dispute in which Arsenal allowed Nasri’s contract to run down till its final year. It became evident Nasri had his heart set on a move away from the club. Arsenal accepted a £25m bid from Man City which for a player in his last year of contract was excellent business. Nasri won the league with City last year but spent quite a bit of time on the bench. Speculation has surrounded Nasri future after City has been linked with a host of attacking midfielders this summer.

Right Career move- Too early to decide

If Van Persie does eventually leave Arsenal, the club he moves to next will be vital to how his career will pan out. The odds are stacked against you as a player leaving Arsenal, there have been many failure stories and only a few success stories. Will Van Persie choose the right career move for himself or will he join the long list of names who failed to make the right decision.

Thanks for reading, comments and feedback will be greatly appreciated.


What happens next in the RVP saga?

Yesterday afternoon a statement released via Robin Van Persie’s personal website illustrated the Dutchman’s decision not to renew his contract at Arsenal Football Club. The decision sparked disgust and anger from many Arsenal fans, towards RVP himself, Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board. In what is a growing trend for Arsenal summers, just when everything seemed to be going decent after two positive signings, Arsenal once again find themselves resigned to losing their best player and captain.

Despite RVP coming out publicly and expressing his concerns about the club, no decision has been made about the Dutchman’s future. Here are several ways this saga could end.

Seeing out his contract

RVP still has a year left on his contract and Arsenal have already released a statement that they expect Van Persie to see out his commitments with the club. In a poll done by @AlexFortyNine 65% of fans would prefer the club to sell RVP rather than keep him for the remainder of his contract. Arsenal are well within their rights to keep RVP for another season as he is under contract, Wenger could make a statement by saying if you don’t want to be here then that is fine, play in the Reserves. Of course Arsenal would miss out on a transfer fee and would still be paying his wages for a year, but it would show Arsenal will not be held to ransom. If RVP is happy to play for the club for the rest of his contract it would enable Wenger to have more time to find a replacement for RVP and would soften the blow in terms of squad reduction for this season at least.

Of course however it does seem as though RVP’s future is not at Arsenal Football Club, keeping RVP around the club for the remainder of his contract could have more negative’s than positives. Keeping an unhappy player around could spark unrest with the other players of the squad as well as being unpopular with the fans. Questions would also be raised about the players commitment after a few bad performances, also with Van Persie’s injury record you can never guarantee a full season. If RVP was to get injured for half the season, which he has done many times in the past, Arsenal would be kicking their selves for not selling him in the summer.

Selling him

The majority of Arsenal fans would prefer to sell Arsenal sell RVP, cut their losses and move on. At the moment there only seems to be two destinations available to RVP, however after yesterday’s public announcement I’m sure other clubs around Europe will be alerted to RVP’s availability. Juventus and Manchester City are two clubs who have had a long running interest in RVP, Manchester City reportedly have already offered a deal to RVP’s agent, and Juventus reportedly had a £8m bid turned down last week by Arsenal.

It really comes down to Arsenal’s personal choice on whom they want to sell him to. They could take a higher offer from Manchester City but of course they would be strengthening the opposition, or they could take a lower offer from Juventus, but at least they wouldn’t be selling another player to Manchester City and RVP would be out of harm’s way domestically.

Apparently Juventus is RVP’s preferred destination, but not everything is to be believed in the papers and it would seem quite backwards for him to go to Serie A. Of course Juventus have just won the league and replicated Arsenal’s invincible achievement, they also have a great chance of retaining their title next season. However Serie A just seems a step in the wrong direction for a man criticising Arsenal’s ambition, but I suppose trophies are trophies, if the man wants trophies does it matter what league he gets them in?

On the other foot, it would be strange of RVP to join Manchester City, especially with the striking options available to City already, he could risk being a squad player, a squad player on £200,000 a week however. In another poll by @AlexFortyNine 91% of Arsenal fans said they would boo RVP if he was to sign for City and return to the Emirates to play Arsenal.

A Change of Mind?

In what seems like the most unlikely scenario, we have seen players before making a public declaration with intentions to leave the club in order to get a better deal. You may remember the Wayne Rooney saga in October 2010 where he announced his intention to leave Manchester United after a fall out with Sir Alex and concerns over the clubs direction, sound familiar? Soon after Manchester United offered him an improved contract and what do you know, Rooney still plays for United today and is happier than ever. The funny thing about this was when you read both Van Persie’s and Rooney’s statements are pretty much identical, as if written by the same person.

However, as I said this would be the most unlikely scenario, as its very rare in the world of football, especially if Arsenal have already offered the most they can afford to give. It seems as though RVP has made his bed and now it’s time to lay in it.

Wayne Rooney’s statement here – http://news.sky.com/story/813557/wayne-rooneys-statement-in-full

Van Persie’s statement here – http://robinvanpersie.com/2012/07/04/update-for-the-fans/

If I was the Arsenal board and Arsene Wenger I would be inclined to sell Van Persie and cut our losses. I wouldn’t get involved in a bidding war, trying to get the most money for him because there will only be one winner, and that would be Manchester City. Van Persie has suffered injury ravaged seasons, after injury ravaged seasons since being bought to the club 8 years ago, rarely completing a full season for the club, who’s to say next season another injury won’t keep him out for the whole season. Keeping him, whilst being bold and sending out a strong statement could bring more negatives than positives. Also the disrespect shown to the club by RVP should not be tolerated, I would take what we can from Juventus or any other clubs outside the Premier League and let him ply his trade out of harm’s way.

Thanks for reading @Lewbob91

Statistical Analysis of Arsenal’s Defence

In what was Arsenal’s worst defensive season since 1995, 49 goals shipped is simply not good enough. Defensive frailty has always been a running issue under Wenger’s reign, a few good seasons here and there but generally Arsenal are not renowned for their defensive strength in the Wenger Era.

8 goals conceded to Man United at the start of the season, with a reserve strength team starting certainly didn’t help their cause, neither does the 8 Centre Back pairings used by Arsenal throughout the season. As the season progressed Arsenal seemed to find their feet, improving defensively and thus finishing in a very respectable third place, considering the start they had. This article will be taking a closer look at the statistical side to the Arsenal defence.

Arsenal’s strongest Centre Back pairing?

Pair Games Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
Koscielny & Vermaelen 13 12 5 53.6 0.9 38.5
Koscielny & Mertesacker 19 22 6 63.2 1.2 31.6
Vermaelen & Mertesacker 1 1 0 0 1 0
Vermaelen & Djourou 3 2 2 66.7 0.67 66.7
Koscielny & Djourou 1 8 0 0 8 0

As we can see from these statistics, in terms of win % Mertesacker and Koscielny is the strongest Arsenal Centre Back pairing with a win % of 63.2, only trumped by Vermaelen and Djourou, who only had the 3 games together. The flip side to the coin is that Koscielny and Mertesacker concede on average over a goal per game, this is higher than that of Koscielny and Vermaelen, who concede under a goal per game, but their win % is only 53.6%.

Out of Mertesacker and Koscielny’s 19 games paired together however, only 3 of them were against top 6 opposition, in which Arsenal lost all 3 of those games. Compared to Vermaelen and Koscielny, where 5 of their 13 games together were against top 6 opposition where Arsenal were victorious in 3 of those games.

From those statistics I would have to say I believe Koscielny and Vermaelen is Arsenal’s strongest Centre Back pairing.

Critical Vermaelen

Vermaelen has become a huge player for Arsenal both defensively as well as offensively. His work ethic and determination has made him a favourite at the club. Earlier on in the season I wrote an article explaining why Vermaelen is so important to Arsenal. The stats at the end of the season support that fact.


Games in Defence Wins Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
Vermaelen 28 16 23 11 57.1 0.8 39.3

11 of Arsenal’s 13 clean sheets this season have come with Vermaelen in the team, whether that is him playing at Left Back (4) or Centre Back (7). Conceding on average less than one per game is also testament to Vermaelen’s performances and is no coincidence, considering Arsenal on average are conceding 1.3 goals per game. Vermaelen’s presence alone in defence makes Arsenal much more reliable and resilient.

Improving Koscielny

A lot of eyebrows were raised when Koscielny was signed last season, he looked fragile and a typical Wenger defensive signing who was not up to the Premier League standard. However this season Koscielny has proved all his critics wrong and in my opinion has been the second best Centre Back this season behind Kompany. Koscielny has bulked up and has adjusted to the pace of the Premier League game excellently. Other than the United game where Koscielny was basically playing alone in defence, that was the only blip on a great season for Koscielny.

Games in Defence Wins Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
Koscielny 33 19 42 11 57.6 1.3 33.3

The statistics don’t look particularly impressive, but if you were to take the United game out of the equation, they wouldn’t look bad at all, bringing his conceded per game ratio down to an average of just over 1.

Wobbling Mertesacker

Per Mertesacker probably wasn’t many Arsenal fans first choice Centre Back signing and has definitely gained some critics with his performances this season. A tall and gangly German, who rarely wins any balls in the air, is probably used to having more defensive cover in front of him and playing with a deeper line. Personally I feel a tad sorry for Per Mertesacker, he isn’t blessed with pace nor agility, but Arsenal doesn’t help his cause by playing a defensive line on the half way leaving him open to the ball in behind. He doesn’t stand a chance. Injury ended Mertesacker’s season prematurely, but all in all he bought stability and experience to a shaky Arsenal defence, a decent back up player when needed.

Games in Defence Wins Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
Mertesacker 21 12 25 6 57.1 1.2 28.6

Arsenal certainly started to win more games when Mertesacker came into the side at the start of the season, however the goals still continued to leak in with the German in defence, keeping only 6 clean sheets and conceding well over 1 goal a game.

Out of position Djourou

As speculation increases over Johan Djourou’s future, I suspect many Arsenal fans will be glad to see the back of him. I have always been a fan of Djourou, he has everything a good Centre Back needs, strength, pace and agility, he will always just prone to that defensive error. This season has done Djourou no favours in terms of his popularity with the Arsenal faithful, but being played out of position half the season certainly didn’t help.

Games in Defence Wins Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
Djourou 16 6 21 5 37.5 1.3 31.3

7 of Arsenal’s 10 defeats in the Premier League this season occurred when Djourou played some part of the game, whether that is at Left Back, Right Back or Centre Back. It has been a truly awful season for Djourou who had some decent games at Centre Back with Vermaelen, but when being played out of position at Full Back, he was truly found wanting. Maybe not Djourou’s fault, but certainly Wenger’s.

Best Right Back in the League?

One position where Arsenal doesn’t seem to struggle in is their Right Back position, which is occupied by the ever reliable Bacary Sagna. Sagna has been consistently part of Wenger’s squad for a number of years now and has proven himself to be one of the world’s best Right Backs and probably the best Right back in the Premier League.

Games in Defence Wins Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
Sagna 22 12 18 9 54.6 0.8 41

The stats show how vital Sagna is to Arsenal and how sure they are defensively when he plays. It was a bit part season for Sagna, where injury has not allowed him to have a full season, meaning Jenkinson, Djourou and Coquelin have had to cover him, with not much success. Sagna certainly leaves big boots to fill.

Santos or Gibbs?

I have always said that a Full Back who is never seen is a Full Back doing his job. Multiple times this season I have thought ‘is Gibbs even playing’. The same cannot be said however for the eccentric summer signing of Andre Santos who has produced quite a few heart wrenching moments for Gunners fans this year. Two very different Left Backs who have had their equal share of games this season, one giving excitement and adventure, the other giving composure and reliance.

Games in Defence Wins Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
Gibbs 16 10 13 7 62.5 0.8 43.8
Santos 13 10 14 5 76.9 1.1 38.5

Gibbs has really been part of some excellent defensive displays by Arsenal this season against top 6 clubs and has impressed me in terms of his maturity and discipline. No player has a higher win % ratio than Andre Santos this season and has scored quite a few goals from Left Back, however defensively not as good as Gibbs. Andre Santos has been used as a substitute 3 times in defence this season, which certainly makes his win % higher. Personally I would say Gibbs is the better option for a sturdier defence and is certainly number one candidate to replace Ashley Cole for England.

Importance of Arteta

Only towards the end of the season have we realised just how important Arteta is to Arsenal. Arsenal only won 1 of their 9 games where Arteta was absent and that was the vital win on the last day of the season against West Brom.

Games Wins Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
With Arteta 29 20 28 11 69 0.9 37.9
Without Arteta 9 1 21 2 11.1 2.3 22.2

The statistics are just staggering and the importance of Arteta becomes even more clear by looking at them. Arsenal win games with Arteta in the team, the concede fewer goals and they keep more clean sheets.

Song & Arteta

It’s important to understand that Arteta was never bought to be Fabregas’ replacement. If anything Alex Song has filled the boots of Fabregas and Arteta has taken the role of Song’s last season which was the holding man. I’ve never really rated Song as a Defensive Midfielder, he has always lacked the discipline and ability to sit there and break up the play, Arteta does this breakfast.

Games Wins Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
Arteta & Song 26 18 25 10 69.2 0.9 38.5
Without either 12 3 24 3 25 2 25

The partnership of Song and Arteta in midfield has probably been overlooked by most but has been instrumental into turning Arsenal’s season around.

Strongest Defence

Arsenal have only managed to field what I would call their strongest defence (Gibbs, Vermaelen, Koscielny, and Sagna) on 10 occasions this season. If Arsenal are to challenge next season surely they will need to get more games out of this defence.

Games Wins Conceded Clean Sheets Win % Conc/Game C/S %
Strongest Defence 10 6 9 4 60 0.9 40

What is so impressive about these statistics is that out of the 10 games where Arsenal fielded their strongest defence 7 of them were against top half opposition, their only defeat coming against QPR towards the end of the season.

Arsenal managed to field Gibbs, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Sagna, Arteta and Song in only 6 games this season, 5 of those games resulted in a victory with the one defeat. Surely if Arsenal can build on this progressive defence then next season could just be their year.

Thank you for reading. Please be sure to leave feedback and thoughts.

5 Players Certain To Move This Summer

As we approach the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, transfer speculation is firing in from all angles. High profile players have made early moves already, whilst other player’s futures remain in the balance. Euro 2012 is going to be a huge shopping mall for clubs all around the world to check out the players on their shortlist. Some clubs will be put off by the performances of their targets, some targets may add substantial figures to their valuation. All in all we should expect major activity after the European Championships have finished.

In this article I will analyse the futures of 5 players I believe certain to leave their current club and tell you where I believe they will end up.


Yann M’Vila

Age – 21

Current Club – Rennes

Position – Defensive Midfielder

Valuation – 16-22m

The highly sought after French midfielder who has set the international scene alight with his composure and ability to break up the play, has been linked with Arsenal FC for several seasons now. The Gunners are believed to have missed out on the Frenchman last season after Rennes rejected their bid. Another impressive season from M’Vila has seen more clubs take an interest in his services. Rennes are waiting until after the Euro’s to discuss the future of M’Vila, in a quest to start a bidding war, which is bad news for Arsenal. Teams like Inter Milan and Juventus have shown interest in M’Vila and if he impresses for France this summer you can bet a few more high profile clubs will be added to that list.

Most Likely Destination – Arsenal


Clint Dempsey

Age – 29

Current Club – Fulham FC

Position – Attacking Midfielder

Valuation – 8-13m

Clint Dempsey has just had his best season in the Premier League and was one of the stars of the 11/12 season. Dempsey scored 17 goals in the league this season helping Fulham to become one of the most feared attacking forces in the Premier League. At the age of 29, Dempsey will certainly be looking to add a new chapter to his career and finally get a move to a big club. Many Premier League, Bundesliga and MLS clubs have been linked with Dempsey’s services for next season, but personally I believe we will see Clint playing Premier League football next season for Liverpool FC

Most Likely Destination – Liverpool FC


Luka Modric

Age – 26

Current Club – Tottenham Hotspur

Position – Centre Midfielder

Valuation – 25-32m

Luka Modric has been an instrumental part of Harry Redknapp’s Spurs becoming a real powerhouse in Premier League football in recent years. However Spurs are resigned to losing him this summer, after only just about keeping him at the club last summer. The lead runners for Luka’s signature seem to be Manchester United and Chelsea, the same two clubs as last summer. The only stumbling block for any possible transfer could be Tottenham’s high asking price. After shedding out for both Kagawa and Hazard respectively United and Chelsea will have to make a decision over whether the fee will be worth the services of Luka.

Most Likely Destination – Chelsea


Demba Ba

Age – 27

Current Club – Newcastle United

Position – Centre Forward

Valuation – 7m

Demba Ba has been a huge factor behind Newcastle’s surprise season and surge up the Premier League table. 16 Premier League goals this season and a £7m release clause in his contract makes him a viable target for pretty much every half decent club in Europe. Demba Ba will certainly have plenty options available to him and will be keen to leave St James’ Park to fuel his ambitions. Many people believe Demba Ba to have a relatively short career left due to his proneness to injury. Spurs seem to be leading the race at the moment for Demba Ba and hoping for the Senegalese international to be Adebayor’s replacement.

Most Likely Destination – Tottenham Hotspur


Edinson Cavani

Age – 25

Current Club – Napoli

Position – Centre Forward

Valuation – 20-25m

Edinson Cavani is one of world’s most prolific strikers at the moment, the past two seasons he has netted 66 times in total for Napoli in all competitions. This goal scoring record along with Napoli’s exploits in the Champions League last term have made a lot of clubs around Europe aware of Cavani’s talent. The Uruguayan has been heavily linked to Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus and his future will certainly be watched closely and should be very interesting over the next few months.

Most Likely Destination – Juventus


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