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You recoil with horror yet his is all very sensible, particularly in a Moneyball sense. You know, cleansing your mind of the biases that deny the hard data, emancipating yourself from the kind of reflex devotion to your team that bookmakers prey on. Think of the Tottenham fan betting that this will be the season they break the top four, or a Liverpool supporter convinced that 2015-16 is their year. They're danged fools, right?
I don't want to be a danged fool, and with nothing to say in the face of this common sense I accepted the possibility that I too might learn to enjoy a goal by someone I don't like. And I have to admit it feels great.

Our squad, rocked as it was, would have crumbled without his influence that season. Our best player, some guy called Ronald I think, had the best year of his career - he could not have done any more. That extra 5-10% - the difference between gasping our last breath as the turbulent current pulled us under and grasping the life preserver with our outstretched hand - would have to come from someone else. In a team with an equally moderate smattering of talent and brain cells we desperately needed another leader – on the pitch and off it - to help shepherd the masses

 

Wenger is loath to sign players in order to keep them from the clutches of other teams; Fabregas was the most recent example, opting not to sign the player due to Ozil’s status at the club despite knowledge that Chelsea would follow up with a bid. Similarly, Wenger recommended Antonio Valencia to Wigan back in 2008; having scouted the player for quite a while, Wenger recommended him to Steve Bruce as we were well stocked for wide players at the time. It is one of the attributes that makes him such a fantastic man to work with, his compassion and respect for his players is well known and is one of the reasons he is spoken of so highly of by former players. But with the financial arsenal at his disposal, it may now be the time to become rather more cold-blooded.

 

The truth is, loyalty doesn’t exist in football and Sterling owes Liverpool nothing. The argument that Liverpool allowed Sterling to play on the biggest stage, to start in their starting line-up whilst other, more experienced players sat on the bench, holds no weight. For if it wasn’t for Sterling’s own ability then Liverpool would not have given him the opportunity. Sterling earned his right to play at that level due to Liverpool’s lack of an alternative and the player’s own progress. His ability and importance to the team should not be used as a tactic against him to stay at the club; this train of thought can only be viewed as a form of emotional blackmail. You could argue that the young Englishman may not have made the progress he did without the help of Rodgers and his backroom staff

 

Bellerin struggled for the first few games but alongside the experienced head of Mertesacker, he soon learned to vary his point of attack. His pace meant that if there was a reasonable chance of winning the ball, he could take it; but if not, he could give himself a yard and push the attacker outside, knowing that a heavy touch would see his pace come out on top. Since learning this invaluable lesson, Bellerin has become paramount to our structured game plan, both defensively and

Further forward we have our most expensive player in the club’s history, Mesut Özil. Despite what his critics would have you believe, Mesut is a hugely important cog in this Arsenal team. His nonchalance is juxtaposed by his pinpoint precision. He conducts the play like a musical conductor, swaying the passing from left to right, probing for that crescendo moment. He has adjusted to the pace and physicality of the league exceptionally well and has cast aspersions aside through some pretty impressive statistics. NB: Only in Britain would distance covered statistics pacify fans’ unrest at a player who is clearly exceptionally talented.

Mikel and our BFG are both leaders, powerhouses in a previously fragile environment, but they don’t require an authoritative armband to maintain that. Their presence will remain central. Elevating a younger, more consistent and long-term thinking option into the role is exactly what we need. For long periods, Jack was lobbied as that individual but he has much to establish including an understanding of his best position and a search for tactical discipline seemingly lost. Laurent Koscielny doesn’t have the persona despite his borderline world-class technical attributes. Ozil, our other World Cup winner, needn’t apply. Alexis, perhaps the most inspirational to others, offers a different brand of leadership and under his helm, injuries would surely mount further with his unquenchable thirst regardless of positioning within the infamous ‘red zone’. Beyond that, the options dwindle.

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more