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Invincibles versus our new boys
Augustine Worth posted an article in London CallingInvincibles Our best ever? New Boys Or could these be? Player + age Lehmann 34 Ramsdale 24 Lauren 27 Tomiyasu 24 Cole 23 Zinchenko 26 Campbell 29 Saliba 21 Toure 23 Gabriel 25 Gilberto Silva 27 Partey 29 Vieira 28 Xhaka 30 Bergkamp 35 Odegaard 24 Pires 30 Saka 21 Henry 26 Jesus/Nketiah 25/23 Ljungberg 27 Martinelli 21 Are we better than the Invincibles? Ramsdale above Lehmann? Of course, Gus, you are joking, right? Better than the Invincibles, our greatest ever? I think we have to call BS on this one. Eh, no, let’s take a look at what we have and what we had and then we can say more clearly. Now, for sure, we are looking at different systems, different eras, different challenges but still there are similarities, maybe the most massive being a giant from Manchester is standing in our way. Plus, the Invincibles were a seasoned, hardened team who knew how to win big trophies. In comparison, we are a bunch of kids with potential and we are unsure if they have that killer instinct, that never say die attitude, or even the skill level required. Sorry Jens, I am a bitter man But let’s start at goalkeeper Lehmann vs Ramsdale. I am going to go Ramsdale as I was never a huge Lehmann fan. Maybe it is the Champions League final that sways it for me but it seems I am a petty man with a grudge. So 1-0 to the Arsenal, sorry, to the new boys. When I see 1-0 I automatically say to the Arsenal. Lauren vs Tomiyasu. Now first I have to say that I am choosing Tomiyasu over White as I feel he can put players in his pocket better. Lauren was a super player, unruffled and reliable. A good body of work with Arsenal and 7 trophies, I probably have to give it to him just about. Tomiyasu is similar, reliable, works hard and doesn’t let us down. A very tight 1-1 so. Cole vs Zinchenko. Tricky but if we take Ashley Cole’s career as a whole, his 107 caps for England, his huge trophy cabinet and compare that to Zinchenko’s body of work for us it is hard not to give it to him. Cole was under-rated at Arsenal but not at subsequent clubs or internationally. A lot of Arsenal fans can’t forgive him but I feel they should have recognized that he was world class. We had Gael Clichy waiting in the wings and I feel that was a big influence on the decision but Arsenal have always had a touch of stinginess about them. Maybe they should have given him the money his class deserved. Zinchenko might surpass him and I would love if he did but for now 2-1 to the Invincibles. Sol Campbell vs William Saliba William Saliba reminds me of Campbell. Both unruffled, classy in the tackle, comfortable with the ball and above all reliable. Big names can appear against us but these type of guys give us confidence. Campbell is a huge favourite of mine and he was part of the holy Trinity at Arsenal, him at the back, Vieira in midfield and Henry upfront. You have no idea how happy I would be if Saliba turned out to be better than Campbell. But for now it is 3-1 to the Invincibles. Kolo Toure vs Gabriel Magalhães This is tough. Toure combined very well with Campbell and was almost Bobby Moore like in how he won the ball but his career was never as good when he left Arsenal. I feel he was in the right defence and maybe looked a bit better than he was. So I am going to give it to Gabriel. I would certainly pick him if forced. 3-2 and one back for the new boys. Gilberto Silva vs Thomas Partey The easy answer every time for this exercise is Invincibles first but Partey is good, very good. If he had gone to Barcelona or Real early on I might have to give a different answer here but marginally the vote goes to Gilberto, I mean he won the World cup, his body of work is stronger. Again, though, Partey could change my mind over the next seasons. 4-2 to the Invincibles. Patrick Vieira vs Granit Xhaka Xhaka has done miracles, we can all agree, but Patrick is Patrick. Maybe we will never see another midfielder as good as him. 5-2 to the Invincibles. Bergkamp vs Odegaard Dennis - better than all the rest? Of course here the systems make it difficult and Odegaard plays a different role but I feel it is the closest comparison I can make. Bergkamp did not play on the wing so I can’t compare him to our wide men. Thierry Henry says that Bergkamp was the best he ever played with, which means he is up against Messi and Zidane and wins. The amazing thing is that maybe Odegaard could surpass Dennis. He is good but Dennis was Dennis. 6-2 to the Invincibles. Robert Pires vs Saka Nowadays, Pires would be criticized because he wasn’t a great defender whereas Saka can and does do both. Pires body of work is greater but I am just going to give it to Saka because I love him so much. 6-3 and another back for the new boys. Thierry Henry vs Gabriel Jesus/ Eddie Nketiah Well, you all know the answer to this one. Our greatest ever up against either Jesus or Eddie Nketiah as I am truly not sure who is better for the team, but Henry would go in all day long. We had 4 unbelievable strikers in Henry, Bergkamp, Wiltord and Kanu then, and maybe we will have 4 similar in Nketiah, Jesus, Balogun and Trossard to terrify the opponents, but at the moment I would certainly put Henry, Bergkamp and Kanu above anyone we have now. 7-3 to the Invincibles. Kanu- an Invincible sub would get into our new team? Ljungberg vs Martinelli Freddie just kept on doing it, he was loved by us all and Martinelli is also strong in our affections. Ljungberg had a more all round game and played a different role than Martinelli and I feel that I have to pick him for now but that could change in the future. 8-3 to the Invincibles. So, there you have it. A comprehensive win for the team of 2003/4. I doubt if anyone would give me a serious argument at the moment but in all seriousness, if this team could surpass our legends and go on a ten year run like the great Liverpool and Manchester United teams of the past, winning leagues and Champions league with abandon, then you can all come back to me and say, Gus, you were talking nonsense, our new boys, let’s call them the Incredibles, are better than the Invincibles and hardly any would get into an Incredible 11. Ah, I can dream.
Eddie at the crossroads
Augustine Worth posted an article in London CallingEddie at the Crossroads Lots more phone calls required, Eddie Eddie Nketiah’s career has been stop start, for sure. He has always managed to score goals, that is indisputable, particularly for England where he has managed almost a goal a game, 37 in 38 starts. He has 27 in 112 for Arsenal which is not so good but in a huge number of those he came on as a sub, often near the end for a few minutes. His record in cups is good. 39 games and 16 goals and some of those were also as sub. It seems he has now got a chance to make it impossible for Arteta to drop him. If he displaces Jesus that would be amazing. Or could they play together? It doesn’t seem to be in Arteta’s mind and Saka and Martinelli surely won’t make way. Jesus can't make phone calls at the moment I really don’t see him starting both Eddie and Jesus short of an injury to either of our wide-men. Jesus could certainly fill a role on the wing but I really don’t see Eddie doing it. He has that poachers feel about him that Jesus doesn’t have. Jesus wants to do everything, be involved in all the action, a truly modern player, but he is not so prolific. Nketiah always seems to be there when the ball comes in the box. Every match he has chances. I suspect he will score more goals if he stays in that position to the end of the season than Jesus would had he not got injured. Impossible to truly say, of course, but Jesus’ goals tally of 339 club games and 128 goals, and 59 games to 19 goals for Brazil indicate that goal scoring is not his forte. What he does is terrorise teams, creating spaces, winning and receiving balls from everywhere, making him virtually impossible to mark. Arteta will buy him out? I suspect Arteta will buy a striker, if a suitable one becomes available. If he gets put in the team, then Nketiah won’t really get his chance. What then, for him? He must leave. I know he doesn’t want to, like Martinez before him. But Emi waited too long. He should have left well before for the sake of his career. Look at him now, a World Cup winner. Nketiah is in a similar boat, stick or twist. My opinion is that if Arteta buys, then Eddie goes back to the bench. Can he score for the senior squad? He may get 4 more matches to the end of January, Brighton, Newcastle, Spurs and Man Utd. He needs goals and to be dangerous throughout. But they are unlikely to be big scoring matches as they are 4 of the current top 7. Newcastle rarely concede goals. So, that is his task, score goals against the top sides, but also, crucially, Arsenal need to garner many points in these matches. A striker is judged on goals, yes, but also on his team winning. Scoring when losing is not the same as scoring when winning. An unlucky time to be our striker He has a tough task ahead of him. It is hard to see him knocking in too many. It is often said about even big players that they can only score against lesser teams, a charge levelled at our own Thierry Henry, but that is the reality. In the big games, not many goals are scored and even top strikers have run up their tallies with hattricks against small teams. Their record against the best are not so impressive. Assuming that to be so, then Nketiah probably won’t score many in these matches and we will surely drop points in January. Win those 4 and it will be amazing but maybe that’s a fantasy. His position will be shaky if we drop points. Towards the end of last season, he scored goals but the team lost. He is unlucky that it is such a challenging series of matches. Emi - the right decision made him World champion If we buy, I feel that he is sunk. He will never get his chance really as the new guy and the returning Jesus will be in front of him. Will he stay many years as second choice? This season is surely his defining one. Grab this opportunity now or leave for the sake of his career. He is young enough to get his profession back on track. If he stays on like Martinez, then it will be so much harder. I love this guy I like Eddie. He is pure Arsenal, a Hale Ender and one of our own. When he kisses the badge he has the right to do so. Yet he has the right to leave. It may even be the best thing for him. There are lots of top players who never quite made it at Arsenal and I reckon Nwankwo Kanu was probably the best of those. There are many others like Podolski, Pepe, Arshavin, Rosicky, Charlie Nicholas and maybe even my old favourite, Charlie George, who just didn’t nail down a starting position for any long period of time. Sometimes injuries were part of the reason but with Kanu it wasn’t that. Kanu - even as a sub he was voted our 13th best ever player Kanu was with us for six seasons. He played 198 times and scored 44 goals, often as a sub. The thing is, Arsenal were winning trophies and there was one big factor, Dennis Bergkamp didn’t want to fly. Kanu played in an astonishing 53 European matches out of that total and won African footballer of the year twice. He won 2 leagues and 2 FA cups with us. Even as sub, he would come on quite regularly with plenty of time to make an impact unlike what Arteta seems to do with Nketiah. If Wenger wanted a fresh approach then Kanu was brought in. He was, in my opinion, just a shade behind Bergkamp as he was superb. And of course, he played for the Invincibles season. Second choice Eddie? Will Nketiah do the same? Play on when he is second choice? Even if we win trophies? He would certainly strengthen the squad if he does so, as he could pop up with a late goal. But If I was him, I wouldn’t. If he doesn’t hammer down a starting position this year, he should leave. Martinez was right to leave but if I was him I would have done so earlier. In a struggling Villa he is one of their most reliable players. And in a dominant Argentina probably second MVP. He got them their shootouts and Messi must love him. Second string for Arsenal would not have got him first choice at Argentina. Eddie’s career will flounder also as second string. If he doesn’t get his big chance after this difficult period, if someone is bought and replaces him or Jesus is back and Eddie is cast aside, then he has only one choice, I feel. Go, and show that he does have the ability after all. He could well turn out to be the best player never to quite make it at Arsenal. He needs to take that step. Don't replace Harry Kane at Spurs and be better than him Hey, don’t get me wrong. There would be no one happier than me if he finally steps up, makes himself undroppable and becomes an Arsenal scoring legend surpassing Henry’s figures. He is young enough to do that. Maybe though, he might need to leave and become another team’s legend. Best of luck to you, Eddie, if that is what you desire, but please, not the Spuds. Pat Jennings and Sol Campbell came from them to win trophies, but don’t sicken us all by turning the Spuds into a winning team.