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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.

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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
Hernandez

9(13)

44

10

22.73

Le Fondre

11(23)

55

12

21.82

Podolski

25(8)

54

11

20.37

Fletcher

28

55

11

20.00

Berbatov

32(1)

81

15

18.52

Van Persie

35(3)

141

26

18.44

Benteke

32(2)

104

19

18.27

Lukaku

20(15)

97

17

17.53

Long

25(9)

48

8

16.67

Michu

35

110

18

16.36

Crouch

28(6)

43

7

16.28

Walcott

24(8)

87

14

16.09

Lambert

35(3)

94

15

15.96

Sturridge

12(9)

70

11

15.71

Pogrebnyak

26(3)

33

5

15.15

Holt

28(6)

53

8

15.09

Dzeko

16(16)

94

14

14.89

Hazard

31(3)

63

9

14.29

Rooney

22(5)

86

12

13.95

Aguero

22(8)

86

12

13.95

Walters

38

59

8

13.56

Bale

33

165

21

12.73

Suarez

33

187

23

12.30

Kone

32(2)

92

11

11.96

Adebayor

18(7)

42

5

11.90

Torres

28(8)

68

8

11.76

Demba Ba

30(4)

135

15

11.11

Tevez

28(6)

105

11

10.48

Giroud

24(10)

107

11

10.28

Defoe

27(7)

108

11

10.19

Cisse

35(1)

86

8

9.30

Anichebe

19(7)

65

6

9.23

Carroll

22(4)

81

7

8.64

Jelavic

26(11)

85

7

8.24

Di Santo

24(11)

65

5

7.69

 

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
Lampard

29

80

15

18.75

Agbonlahor

28

48

9

18.75

Mata

35

70

12

17.14

Hazard

34

63

9

14.29

Nolan

35

78

10

12.82

Fellaini

31

90

11

12.22

Sessegnon

35

59

7

11.86

Weimann

30

62

7

11.29

Cazorla

38

115

12

10.43

Toure

32

69

7

10.14

Dempsey

29

70

7

10.00

Gerrard

36

93

9

9.68

 

Thanks for reading.

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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

Kaka

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

Hulk

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

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.

https://lewbobsfootballworld.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/why-vermaelen-is-so-important-to-arsenal/

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.

Brendan Rodgers – A new era for Liverpool FC

The last time Liverpool won a league title my Mum and Dad hadn’t even conceived me yet. Yet because of their occasional European success we still regard Liverpool as one of the biggest clubs in the world let alone England. Liverpool are a club with tremendous history and an incredible fan base, they are a big club within their own right and have established themselves the right way.

However in recent seasons we have seen a steady decline in the great Liverpool Football Club, with a combination of questionable signings, poor managerial appointments and controversy in all corners of the football club. We now come to the 9th Liverpool managerial appointment since Liverpool last won the league in 1991, when King Kenny had a far more successful tenure at the club than his most recent one, in which he established himself as a Liverpool managing legend. 8 managers Since Kenny have failed to deliver Liverpool a league title and have allowed arch enemies Man United to dominate English football since Sir Alex Ferguson took charge at Old Trafford.

The question is will Brendan Rogers be the man to restore pride to the red side of Merseyside and end all the years of hurt and put aside the recent few years of disappointment. Not much to ask from a 39 year old man who has only been managing since 2008.

I am a big fan of Brendan Rogers’ style of football, watching Swansea this season was a joy to behold (apart from the game where they beat Arsenal at our own game at the Liberty). Brendan Rogers, as well as Paul Lambert showed Championship clubs that you can come to the Premier League and survive playing great football. Not only did both Swansea and Norwich survive but they finished comfortably in mid table.

Every Liverpool fan I have spoken to has signalled their excitement over the appointment of Rogers, I too would share their excitement if I was a Liverpool supporter. It is a fresh approach from Liverpool, someone young who they will be looking to build a team that will be competing year in year out. The last few Liverpool managerial appointments have been clutching at straws, Hodgson and Dalglish both employed to restore confidence and support from the fans, relying on experience and know how. Rogers will not give Liverpool experience or know how, but what he will give them is fresh ideas and an opportunity to start again, something that Liverpool should have done as soon as Rafa Benitez left.

This appointment will not work however if Liverpool fans expect results right away and pile on the pressure. I would go as far as saying a top 6 finish for Liverpool next season would be a fantastic achievement for Rogers. Liverpool will not be blessed with huge amounts of funds to spend in the transfer market and have lost a lot of their player pull, therefore they will be relying on either the players they’ve got or using their scouting network for relative unknown players. Something Liverpool have got wrong in the past few years, hence the departure of Damien Commoli was the poor standard of signings they were announcing. If Brendan Rogers can attract the right names to the club and the right players to suit his style of play, then things could work out well for Liverpool.

If for example Liverpool start off poorly and the fans are already getting on the back of Brendan then I can’t see this appointment working, Liverpool fans will have to be patient and not bite off more than they can chew. The reality is that this Liverpool team is not strong enough to compete for the title, the sooner Liverpool fans come to terms with this and lower their standards for the time being, then the better things are likely to work out.

Brendan Rogers has said he only took the job on the promise that he would have complete control over transfers in and out of the club. The Liverpool Board have always had plans of introducing a director of football to possibly conduct transfers on the clubs behalf, Louis Van Gaal was the man who was destined for the job. However with Rogers’ appointment, I’m unsure as to whether Van Gaal will be part of the plan for Liverpool. I have always been of the idea that a manager is at his best when he has full control over who comes in and out of the club, working with other people can lead to disaster, the slightest misunderstanding could lead to the wrong players being signed.

The first job for Brendan Rogers will be to try and get the best out of the squad he already has. That means making the most of the poor signings made in the previous regime of players like Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing. This is never easy as a manager, working with players that wouldn’t necessarily be involved in your plans if you had the choice, however the financial implications dictate otherwise for the time being, unless the club are able to shift them or of course Rogers manages to turn these players into world class footballers.

Rogers will need to keep Suarez, Agger and Skrtel at the club this season, all 3 players have been linked with moves away from the club but Liverpool will need to keep hold of their few world class players. Keeping these players attracts names to the club, that without them they would not be able to attract. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether players will support the managers appointment, so only time will tell if Rogers is able to have a positive impact on the players at the club.

Mourinho saw something in Rogers when appointing him as part of the Chelsea backroom staff and So do I. I firmly believe that Rogers is the right man to steer Liverpool in the direction of success, as long as Liverpool fans and the board stick by him in what is due to be a rocky first few seasons at the club. I firmly believe this will be the case, I think Liverpool have finally wised up to the idea that they need to start over with a fresh approach and will need be patient.

Thanks for reading.

Why Hazard chose the wrong club

Yesterday it was confirmed via Eden Hazard’s personal Twitter account that he was ‘signing for the Champions League Winner’, indicating a move to Chelsea was imminent. I tweeted a few hours previous to that announcement that Chelsea had won the race to sign Eden Hazard, so I give myself props for that. However previously I believed what pretty much everyone else believed. I believed that Eden Hazard was almost certainly on his way to Man City. I also predicted that in 3 year’s time he would be playing for City’s second string against Nott’s County’s Reserves, a trend that has happened to many big signings made by the Manchester Blue’s in recent times.

The fact that Chelsea had won the Champions League a few weeks ago definitely paid an instrumental part of Hazard’s decision. Chelsea pretty much came out of nowhere to secure the services of one of the hottest talents in world football. Hazard has been linked with pretty much every club under the sun over recent years. There is no doubt that Hazard has enjoyed the speculation and has excelled in it, flirted with the idea of joining different teams, this is one player who I fully expect to be on the move again in a few year’s time.

Now let’s look at a few numbers surrounding Eden Hazard.

Age – 21

Position – Attacking Midfielder

Transfer Fee – £32.5m

2011/12 – Apps – 38 Goals 20 Assists 18

2010/11 – Apps – 38 Goals 7 Assists 9

2009/10 – Apps – 37 Goals 5 Assists 9

International Caps – Apps 27 Goals 2

This year has been the first season that Eden Hazard has really become the full package in terms of creating goals as well as scoring them. Hazard’s stats playing in European competition aren’t as impressive however, playing a total of 21 games, scoring 2 goals and 1 assist. The French League has certainly become more competitive in recent years, becoming one of the best leagues in the World. However there is still a country mile between the quality of the French Ligue One and the English Premier League.

This leads me to my first point as to why Hazard chose the wrong club. At the age of 21, with so much to improve on, hardly the finished article. I personally believe Chelsea are not the best club for a young player to develop at. Chelsea has a poor record of bringing youngsters in to the team and developing them. There is no doubting Hazard’s quality but in order for him to fulfil his maximum potential, it is important for him to be nurtured. The number one football club in Britain for nurturing young talent is at Manchester United, under the wing of Sir Alex Ferguson. I’m not saying Hazard won’t be a great player for Chelsea, but I think working with Ferguson et al would see Hazard move onto another level, which he is very capable of.

Youngsters who failed to make an impression at Chelsea include Robben (£15.8m), Wright-Phillips(£27.7m), Zhirkov (£18.4m), Del Horno(£10.8m), Diarra(£3.9m), Duff(£23.2m) and Parker(£12.3m) are some just to name a few. That’s not even including more established players who have come to Chelsea in hope of advancing their careers and have ended up turning into flops.

My second reason as to why Eden Hazard chose the wrong club is because at this current point in time Chelsea have no permanent manager. Unless Roman Abramovic has informed Hazard who the new manager will be, then why would a 21 year old kid move to a club where the managerial situation is uncertain? Even if Hazard has been informed as to whom the manager will be for next season, it is very unlikely that Hazard would have spoken to them personally. I find it very strange that Hazard would move to a club where the managerial situation has yet to be sorted out as of yet, surely as a 21 year old kid moving clubs, the manager you’re working with should be number one priority for the move. Who knows maybe Hazard does know the manager who he will be working with and maybe he has held discussions with this person. I just find it all rather strange.

Another reason as to why I feel Hazard has chosen to wrong club is the style of football Chelsea is renowned for. Chelsea have always been very defensive, they won the Champions League this season by practically hanging on for dear life and hoping for the best. I understand that now with the acquisition of Hazard, Chelsea will be hoping to play a more pleasing on the eye attacking football, but surely Hazard would not have been attracted to the style of Chelsea whilst making his decision to move to them.

As an Arsenal fan it does hurt me to see Hazard signing for Chelsea, as it also hurts me to know that Arsenal were not in the running to sign Hazard this year. Hazard would have been a great signing for Arsenal and he would have fully shone under the guidance of Monsieur Wenger, I’m positively sure of it. However, after seeing the prima donna status Eden Hazard has seemed to have earned, I’m starting to feel quite relieved we were not suckered into this show Hazard was running. I am very positive that in a few years time when Real Madrid or Barcelona come knocking for Hazard, the same show will happen again. This is the type of situation Arsenal of all clubs need to keep well away from, especially with the Nasri, Cesc and Van Persie transfer debacle that has taken place in recent times.

From Chelsea’s perspective they must be feeling pretty great that they have secured to signing of Hazard, one of the hottest prospects on the planet. Let me outline the word ‘Prospect’. £32m on a prospect, plus an extra £40m on wages in an incredibly big financial move to make for a player who is only 21 years old and is relatively unproven on the big stage. I have followed Hazard’s career closely since he was 16 years old, he certainly is a fantastic player, but for Chelsea’s sake they better hope that Hazard lives up to the hype and makes a name for himself in the Premier League.

Judging by the circus act Hazard has put on, the announcement via Twitter, the prima donna lifestyle he seems destined to live, I suppose looking at things, I can see why he choose Chelsea. Chelsea are full of players who love the limelight and media attention, I’m sure Hazard will fit right in. However from the footballing side of things I can’t help but think that we will not see the Eden Hazard that we anticipated to see. As an Arsenal fan I would say, well he should have joined us, however as a neutral, my opinion is that he should have signed with Manchester United.

Maybe I will be wrong, maybe we will see Eden Hazard develop into one of the world best footballers at Chelsea, I just can’t see it, and I really hope he doesn’t turn into a waste of talent, like some of the players we have seen come and leave Chelsea in past seasons for huge amounts of money.

Thanks for reading, make sure to let me know what you think.

Should Van Persie be more prolific?

What a fantastic season it has been for Robin Van Persie. At times the Dutchman has literally carried the gunners on his own shoulders, scoring 30 Premier League goals, 37 in all competitions. Arsenal fans have been sweating on their talisman’s future this season, with his deal set to run out in the summer of 2013. Personally I feel Van Persie will certainly stay for next season and undoubtedly sign a new contract to seal his foreseeable future at the club.

However despite it being such a fantastic season for Van Persie, it hasn’t been such a great season for Arsenal. Going in to the last day of the season Arsenal must beat West Brom to guarantee a Champions League place, fending off competition from Spurs and Newcastle. As an Arsenal fan I get extremely frustrated by our consistency and inability to defend in pressure situations, nothing new there I suppose. However another thing I have started to get a tincey wincey bit frustrated by was Van Persie’s inability to score relatively simple chances.

Now, I’m not for one second holding Van Persie accountable for Arsenal’s failures this year, nor am I trying to take anything away from the Dutchman, he has been absolutely incredible this year, and has been over the last two injury free seasons. However the game against Norwich on the weekend was a clear example of Van Persie missing relatively easy chances, easy chances which could have won us the game. Granted Van Persie’s two goals kept us alive in the game and almost won it for us, but for some defensive frailties, but Van Persie still hasn’t installed a certainty in my head that when he gets in front of goal, he will score.

So I have done some research into Van Persie’s season. The statistics show that Van Persie has had a total of 140 chances on goal this year in the Premier League, scoring 30 goals. That is a goal per chance percentage of 21.4%, a ratio of just over 1 in 5 chances scored. Now those figures didn’t mean much to me, depending on how you look at it, that statistic could seem fantastic or rather shocking.

In order to gain some sort of insight into that statistic, I analysed other strikers across the Premier League. Van Persie has had 25 more chances to score than his nearest competitor, Wayne Rooney. Wayne Rooney has scored 26 goals from 115 shots on goal, a percentage slightly higher than Van Persie of 22.6%. Not too much to worry about there I suppose, other than the fact that Van Persie has had 25 more chances than Wayne Rooney but has only scored 4 more goals. However in the grand scheme of things, there is a relatively small difference between the two.

Now the player with the highest chances per goal percentage unsurprisingly is Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse, who has scored 13 goals from 32 chances, a percentage of 40.6%. Not too concerned about that statistic because Cisse is a new signing and hasn’t had a full season to be judged fairly and comprehensively. The player who has the best chances per goal percentage, who has played throughout the whole season, is relegated Blackburn striker Yakubu, who has racked up a total of 16 goals from 56 chances, a percentage of 28.6%. In fact there are 4 more strikers who have scored more than 10 goals this season who have a better chance per goal percentage than Van Persie. These players are Javier Hernandez (25.6%), Sergio Aguero (22.2%), Mario Balotelli (24.5%), Grant Holt (22.2%), which is 7 in total when you include Rooney, Cisse and Yakubu. Only 3 players who have scored more than 13 goals this term fall behind Van Persie, they are Emmanuel Adebayor (18%), Edin Dzeko (19.4%) and Demba Ba (20.3%).

Only Wayne Rooney (59.1%) and Papiss Cisse (62.5%) have a higher shot on target percentage than Van Persie (58.6%), which shows that Van Persie has forced more saves from Goalkeepers than any other striker in the Premier League with a total of 82 shots on target. These are the exacy chances that tend to frustrate myself about Van Persie. One of one with the keeper, but somehow the keeper keeps it out, or rather sometimes, somehow Van Persie fails to score.

Understandably there is very little difference in the percentages, but when playing at the top level in the Premier League that extra 1% could be all the difference. I have never thought of Van Persie as an out and out goal scorer, I always held him in a Dennis Bergkamp mould, a scorer of great goals, not a great goal scorer. Of course Van Persie has proven me wrong in that department, but in order to convince me completely and to install an Ian Wright, Thierry Henry esque faith in me that he is going to score when in front of goal, he must improve his ratio and start scoring from more of the chances he gets himself into.

For anybody who is interested here are a few statistics from the other strikers who have scored more than 10 goals in the Premier League this season.

Lowest Goals per chance % – Luis Suarez (10.2%) 11 goals from 108 chances

Lowest Shots on target % – Peter Crouch (42.6%) 20 shots on target from total of 47 shots

Lowest amount of shots – Papiss Cisse (32 shots/13 goals) Javier Hernandez (39 shots/10 goals)

Thank you for reading.

Life after Wenger & Fergie

It’s hard to imagine the Premier League without Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm of the two biggest clubs in Britain. Since Wenger arrived at Arsenal in 1996 the rivalry between himself and Fergie has been amongst the best in the world, we have been lucky to see 16 years of some amazing battles between Arsenal and Manchester United. Despite the rivalry, both managers respect each other dearly and football will surely be at a loss when they finally decide to retire.

Many people believe Wenger’s days are numbers at Arsenal Football Club and at the age of 62, its easy to see why. Wenger hasn’t won a trophy for Arsenal in 7 years and has come in for unprecedented stick in the last 2-3 years. Arsene Wenger transformed English football when he came to Arsenal, he is probably the reason why English football is as entertaining as it is now. Wenger has managed Arsenal to 3 doubles including the Invincibles side who will go down as one of the greatest teams in history.

Sir Alex Ferguson has probably been the greatest manager of all time. Who would have known in 1986 when Fergie arrived from Aberdeen, that he would have the impact on world football that he has done over the last 26 years. 12 Premier League titles, 2 Champions League Titles, 5 FA Cups and most impressive of all, Fergie has made Manchester United in to the biggest and most marketable club in the world. Who ever succeeds Fergie or Wenger is going to have their work cut out and a huge job on their hands

The replacement for Wenger has always been a debating point over the last few years. Who could possibly come to the club and play the football Wenger has made Arsenal play over the last 16 years. Lets take a look at Wenger’s possible replacements.

Remi Garde

A former Arsenal player who Wenger recommended Arsenal to sign, has remained very close to Arsene Wenger as his playing days came to a close and his managerial career started. Remi Garde currently manages Lyon in France. Before taking up the managerial post at Lyon, Garde was linked to a return to Arsenal in a Director of Football roll, where he would have surpassed David Dein. Remi Garde is Skybet’s favourite to overtake Wenger at 10/1.

Likelihood – 7/10

Dragan Stojkovic

Some of you may have heard of Dragan Stojkovic, some of you may be thinking ‘who the hell is that’. Well Dragan is a Serbian coach who is very close to Wenger on a personal level. Stojkovic currently manages Nagoya Grampus, coincidentally the same team Wenger managed before coming to Arsenal. Stojkovic’s philosophy’s on football barely differ from Wenger’s and is probably where my money would go when it comes to choosing a replacement for Wenger. His lack of managing experience at the top-level is a concern though, but at the age of 46 he is still relatively young for a manager.

Likelihood – 7/10

Frank Rijkaard

Frank Rijkaard was the man responsible for bringing this current Barcelona team together, he reinstalled the fear factor back in to Barcelona and got them playing the magical football that they still play today. Rijkaard was in charge when Barcelona beat Arsenal in the Champions League final in 2006. Rijkaard has been linked with moves to English football in recent seasons, but he currently manages the Saudi Arabian National team. A move for Rijkaard would suit the way Arsenal play their football, however a disappoining end to his Barcelona career may be a put off for Arsenal.

Likelihood – 6/10

Steve Bould

Steve Bould currently managers the Arsenal youth team and has become a valuable member of Wenger’s coaching team. Steve Bould of course was part of that famous George Graham back line that Wenger inherited when he first came to the club. Steve Bould is the perfect person to be groomed by Wenger to be his successor and I’m sure he would be a fans favourite if he was to take charge.

Likelihood – 6/10

Tony Adams

If we were sitting here 5 or 6 years ago talking about Wenger’s replacement, 99% of people would have said Tony Adams for certain. However Tony has not exactly hit the heights he would have hoped to of hit in his short managerial career. His Portsmouth flop will surely sit in the minds of anybody making the decision of replacing Wenger and although Mr Arsenal himself would surely have the passion for the job, I’m uncertain about his managerial abilities to manage at the top-level.

Likelihood – 4/10

Dennis Bergkamp

The flying Dutchman has flirted with managerial returns to football and is currently the assistant manager to Frank De Boer at a promising Ajax team. Bergkamp would certainly bring a lot of flair if he was to manage Arsenal, however his lack of managerial experience would surely hinder any decision to bring him back in a managerial role. Bergkamp will always remain as an Arsenal legend and would always be welcomed back with open arms in any coaching capacity.

Likelihood – 5/10

Arguably the hunt for Fergie’s replacement is somewhat easier than the replacement for Wenger. United’s style doesn’t require someone specific, just someone who can bring success to the world biggest club. Lets take a look at some of Fergie’s possible replacements.

Jose Mourinho

Currently overwhelming favourite to take over the United hot seat after Fergie retires. Mourinho has won everything there has to offer in club management. Jose is also a character that would fit the bill at United, with Premier League experience and Premier League football yearning for his return, Jose to United seems like a no brainer and is the bookies favourite, with some odds as short as 2/1. Mourinho has always been open to a return to English football but to which club we are not sure.

Likelihood – 8/10

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

A true Man United great who currently manages in his homeland of Norway for Molde FC, where Solskjaer won the league in his first season at the club. Solskjaer originally was in charge of the Man United reserves team and declined the opportunity to manage the Norwegian National team. The appointment of Solskjaer would certainly be a popular one with the fans and at the age of 38 he is just at the beginning of his managerial career, so if not to replace Fergie then certainly one day in the future.

Likelihood – 7/10

Pep Guardiola

Sooner or later, Pep Guardiola is going to become bored with dominating World football with Barcelona and is going to have to find a new challenge. Where better to test his skills then at the theatre of dreams. Guardiola has come in for some criticism and many still are sceptical about his managerial abilities, as he inherited this Barcelona squad, which some believe to be the easiest job in the world. I’m sure Guardiola would disagree, proving himself at Man United would be a test I’m sure he’d love to take on.

Likelihood – 7/10

David Moyes

Moyes has done magnificently well with Everton and is surely one of the best managers not managing a top 6 club. Year in year out Everton challenge with the best on a shoe string budget, Moyes managerial credentials are undoubtably ready for the next test, it’s just a question at who is going to give him a chance.

Likelihood – 6/10

Martin O’Neill

In my opinion Martin O’Neill is the best manager to have never managed a top club. I’m sure Martin will be hoping to move his new club Sunderland up the table and in to a challenging position, and as we have seen thus far, he has already had a positive impact. I personally would love to see Martin O’Neill in charge of either Liverpool or Man United, he personally deserves it and im certain he would bring success to any club he takes charge of

Likelihood – 6/10

This time in 3 years time it could well be possible that both Arsenal and Manchester United have new managers at the helm, it will be the signal of a new era for the Premier League, which for so long has seen the battle of Wenger v Fergie. Whoever does get the jobs of each respective club, will surely be under pressure to succeed from the day they arrive at the club and it certainly will be interesting to see what happens.

Thanks for reading, leave your comments about who you think will take over from Wenger and Fergie.