Category Archives: Arsenal

Arsenal set to name new captain

Over the summer, the club have been very open with pictures and videos from the training ground.

Whilst none of the training sessions are any different to the past – players kicking a ball, jogging a little bit, doing press ups – the openness has been a breath of fresh air.

The most recent video was of Matteo Guendouzi’s first training session.

It seems Unai Emery and his coaching staff have continued Arsene Wenger’s tradition of shaking hands with every player as they enter the training pitch. It was also good to see senior French speaking players like Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang taking their new 19-year-old team mate under their wing.

There was a very interesting snippet within the video that many people probably missed. Aaron Ramsey was leading the warm up – usually the task of the captain.

The first half of this blog was written prior to Arsenal playing Borehamwood on Saturday.

During that game, a strong Arsenal team ran out 8-0 winners.

Captaining he “second half XI” was Aaron Ramsey.

The Wales international is yet to commit to a new contract with Arsenal, but once he does, he looks to be the most suitable player to replace Per Mertesacker as club captain.

I have been blogging about how Ramsey should be the next Arsenal captain since 2013.

With Laurent Koscielny out until January – and no longer guaranteed a first team spot – Ramsey is the only player who ticks all the boxes.

The Wales international has recently spoken about the appointment of Unai Emery as Arsenal’s new boss.“Exciting times” was the exact term that he used. I fully expect him to sign the new deal and be given the armband.

As captain, you want a player to fit a criteria.

You want him to have been at the club for some time, to understand the ethos of the club. At 27 years old and having been at the club for 10 years, he is the most logical choice next season.

The player needs to command respect from his team mates, through both his ability to lead and his performances on the pitch.

Aaron Ramsey ticks quite a lot of boxes. He’s one of the longest-serving players in the first team. If there’s a structure, Aaron Ramsey could be that guy.

Ramsey became the youngest ever Wales captain at the age of 20 years 90 days back in 2011.

It will be good to have a captain who plays week in week out after it seemingly being forever since we had one.

Keenos

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Football comes home for England

England might not have won the World Cup, but I awake this morning thinking that football has come home.

The tongue-in-cheek song by Baddiel and Skinner with the Lightning Seeds from 1996 has galvanised football in the country.

Most fans sung it with a hint of irony from the first game of the tournament. We did not think we would win the World Cup; it was one of the worst England sides in decades with a manger out of his depth.

No one could have predicted that this rag-tag bunch of lower league players and their waistcoat wearing manager would end up in the semi-final of the World Cup.

A lot of people owe Gareth Southgate an apology.

He might not be the best manager in the world, the most charismatic appointment, a tactical genius, but what he did was bring together the egos of millionaire players and made the whole greater than the individual.

The English national team has had a huge disconnect with the fans for some time.

The Golden Generation of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were arrogant and hard to like if you supported a rival club.

They thought they were superior to the normal Englishman, that the rules that govern us all did not apply to them.

Whether it was sleeping with brasses, fighting in night clubs, missing drugs test, parking in disabled bays or abusing Americans a few hours after 9/11, they were a bunch of players that were continually on the front pages rather than the back.

They used and abused women, each one as unfaithful as the next. And they underperformed massively.

Playing at Wembley also did not help.

A stadium built for cooperate hospitality has often been 30% empty, filled with people with little interest in football. The atmosphere of a funeral. England were boring.

It perhaps started at the game in Leeds prior to the World Cup.

Elland Road was buzzing. It was a proper atmosphere, taking us back to the days when Wembley was being built and the England team were on tour. It is something post World Cup that the FA should consider again.

Play games in Manchester, Newcastle, Leicester, Leeds, Sheffield and Southampton.

Londoners just do not really care as much about the English national team. 50% of the city is not English, and trekking to Wembley on a Tuesday night is a nightmare. A trip that most football fans in the capital end up shunning.

That enthusiasm in Leeds carried through to the World Cup as fans up and down the country decided they wanted their game back.

They wanted their game back from the suits, from the FA, from the corporate’s, from the England band and the happy clappy fans that turn out at Wembley.

The disconnect from the Golden Generation with the fans was bridged. Normality was the key.

Here we had a normal manager in Gareth Southgate. A man we had cried with in 1996. Someone who said it how it was. And he had a likeable bunch of players. Normal players. Players who had fought their way through the lower leagues.

Where as that dislikeable Golden Generation had all come through Premier League academies, been told they were going to be the best in the world from a young age and pampered, this side was completely different.

We all know the Jamie Vardy story. From non-league to Premier League champion in 5 years. And he is not the only one.

Hero of the Quarter-Final Harry Maguire has gone from Sheffield United, Hull City and Wigan to Leicester City. Whilst Jordan Pickford started his career at Sunderland, and had loan spells at Darlington, Alferton Town, Burton Albion, Carlisle United, Bradford City and Preston North End.

Kyle Walker was at Sheffield United, Northampton Town, QPR and Aston Villa, whilst centre back partner and Manchester City started his career at Barnsley.

Dele Alli started his career at Milton Keynes, Harry Kane had loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall and Norwich. In total 51 clubs were represented in the England squad.

This morning fans in Wales and Scotland are mocking England over football coming home. We have even had EU bureaucrats celebrating Croatia’s win like it was their own country that has just made a final.

What they are missing is that “It’s coming home” was not just about winning the World Cup. It was about a return to being proud to be English, a return to the English football team being a joy to watch. A return to the country being united once more.

Football belongs to the fans up and down the country, but the England national team had not felt like ours for a long time. During the World Cup, it returned to the fans. Football came home.

Keenos

Arsenal’s Messy Numbers, Cristiano Ronaldo & Riyad Mahrez, and Jean Michael Seri

Messy Numbers

Lucas Torreira finally joined Arsenal yesterday and took the number 11 shirt. This caused a lot of fuss from traditionalists who dream of the days when players wore 1-11.

11 was always associated with a winger. We then have Bernd Leno, our number 1 for next season set to wear number 19.

Mohamed Elneny, who is unlikely to start, has the number 4 shirt, whilst Granit Xhaka, who is likely to start, wears 34.

And the less said about Joe Willock wearing 69 the better. Grow up son.

I guess at least it is not William Gallas wearing the sacred number 10. That is now on the shoulder of Mesut Ozil.

And we have a proper full back wearing number 2 in Hector Bellerin. It always looked odd with Aboue Diaby in that shift.

If Cech go’s, maybe Leno will move to number 1?

I just do not like it.

Cristiano Ronaldo & Riyad Mahrez

Yesterday Juventus sign Real Madrid forward for Cristiano Ronaldo for £99.2m.

Prior to the deal, the record transfer fee for a 33 year old was when Manchester City spent £16m on Claudio Bravo.

I can see why Ronaldo has moved; he is guaranteed winning the Serie A at least once with Juventus which will put him into an exclusive group of players who have won the league in England, Italy and Spain.

With his recent tax case, Ronaldo is set for a huge windfall in the later end of his career. €120,000,000 over 4 Years is the reported salary.

Some will say that he will earn that back for Juventus in shirt sales, but that is a fallacy as Juventus do not get a percentage of global shirt sales – they only profit o nwhat they sell in their own shop.

It just seems odd for Juventus to be spending that much on a 33 year old.

As for Riyad Mahrez, whilst the £60m is not a huge sum in this day and age – and he is probably worth it – it is incredible that Manchester City have spent the same on one player as Arsenal have on 4

What is even more incredible is that Manchester City already have Raheem Sterling (£44m), Bernard Silva (£43m) and Leroy Sane (£37m) in their squad. They have broken their transfer record on a player who probably will not start week in week out for them.

The signing also continues Pep Guardiola’s incredible spending since joining Manchester City.

Jean Michael Seri

The deal taking Jean Michael Seri from Nice to Fulham is an odd one.

After being linked with both Arsenal and Chelsea for the last 24 months for over £30m, to then join Fulham for reportedly half that just feels strange.

It reminds me of in days gone past when Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez joined West Ham out of no-where.

Why was he so cheap and why did he join Fulham?

My guess is that the interest from Arsenal and Chelsea disappeared. Neither club wanting to spend on a soon-too-be 27 year old whose hype is perhaps well above his ability.

Seri has been compared a lot to N’Golo Kante, but the feeling was always that this was because he was short, African and played in France; rather than him actually being similar to the Frenchman . Kante was also just 24 when he came to the Premier League.

You have to think his agent has forced through the move, knowing that time is running down for his client to make a big money move to the Premier League. That he had to go now to secure that big signing on percentage.

It will be interesting to see if Seri lives up to the hype in England, or if he justifies why Arsenal and Chelsea decided not to go for him.

Keenos