92 clubs favourite players – Arsenal – Mesut Ozil

I have decided that over the next few months I am going to look at every team and choose my favourite player for each of the 92 clubs and comment on their careers, why I like them and what they do for their teams.

So the first of the 92 clubs is Arsenal and my favourite player has to be recent signing and record transfer for the club Mesut Ozil. The 24 year old is the first real world class player Arsenal have signed for a very long time and even those that went on to be considered world class were not exactly in the best of form and their careers had not taken off yet and by this I mean Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. So far Ozil has lived up to his reputation as the assist king as he set up the opening goal on his debut against Sunderland and then followed that up with more in the win against Stoke City. For a 24 year old he has a lot of experience playing in over 100 games in the Bundesliga and La Liga so he should have enough knowledge and experience of the game to be able to settle in at Arsenal and prove to be one of the best in the Premier League.
Ozil
I was very surprised by this transfer for a number of reasons because I did not expect Arsene Wenger to splash out so much but they did need a new signing to keep the fans happy and also to push the club on and challenge for trophies once again. Another reason I was surprised was because of how much all of the Real Madrid players seemed to enjoy playing with Ozil and how important he was to the side, but with them bringing in Isco and Gareth Bale maybe they could not guarantee him first team football and also Carlo Ancelotti might have wanted to bring in his own players and make the team his own.

But back to the German midfielders qualities and they are easy to see because he can pick up the ball anywhere on the pitch and his first thought is how can I create a goal for one of my teammates which is obviously great in a team that loves to pass the ball but sometimes lacks the final bit of quality. Sometimes he is criticised because he does not get enough goals for someone that plays in such an advanced position but just look at the number of assists he gets and you can forgive him. In the Bundesliga he scored 13 goals in 101 games but assisted 38 and then in La Liga he improved further and got 19 goals in 105 games but got 55 assists. If he can replicate this then Arsenal will surely win a trophy.

This signing is also great for the younger players at Arsenal like Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere who should learn a lot from him in training and will also take them to the next level. I also think Olivier Giroud and in particular Lukas Podolski (who he plays with on the international stage) will love playing with Ozil because he will create chance after chance for them.

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Who will win the Premier League?

The Premier League will be very difficult to predict this season because of all the changes that have taken place over the summer.

Three of the top five have new managers so will that work in their favour or will it take them a while to adjust to their new jobs.
Manchester City under Manuel Pellegrini will be an interesting prospect because he does like his teams to play more attacking football and win every game that they play. This is different to former manager Roberto Mancini who at times was a little negative. The signings the club has made will surely improve the squad and I am excited to see how Stevan Jovetic does because he could easily be the signing of the season.

Jose Mourinho is back at Chelsea and this might just make them become the best team in the country once again. He has a great team to work with and will be hoping that he can replicate his first spell in charge. It will be interesting to see if he still favours the players that were there in his first spell like John Terry who should not be in a title winning first 11 anymore. He has a tough choice in picking his main striker this year because Romelu Lukaku, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba are all capable on their day.

Sir Alex Ferguson has left Manchester United in a very strong position so it should not be too hard for David Moyes to at least challenge for the title this season because they still have the same team. The Wayne Rooney saga over the summer will not have helped things and the fact that he has not been able to convince many players to join them will be a little concerning. There will be even more pressure on Robin Van Persie to succeed this season and Moyes has to hope they do not become a one man team.

Arsenal are another club that has struggled in convincing players that they are the team they should be joining but if they can bring in someone like Luis Suarez then they could be right up there come the end of the season. As much as Arsene Wenger thinks top four is good enough I believe this may be his last season in charge if they do not come close to the title again. They have been falling further and further behind their rivals and that is probably why they have tried to spend a lot of money this summer.

Tottenham Hotspur could be seen as outsiders for the title because at times they did play some good stuff last year but unfortunately a lot does rest on whether they can keep hold of Gareth Bale. I do not think they are a one man team but he did win a lot of games for them last year but the signing of Roberto Soldado is a very good one and if he hits the ground running they will have a clinical striker on their hands that will add goals consistently which Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor failed to do last season.

Who is Cheikhou Kouyate and can he solve Arsenal’s defensive problems?

Cheikhou Kouyate has recently been linked with a move to the Premier League and in particular Arsenal but who is he?

Can Kouyate solve Arsenal's problems?

Can Kouyate solve Arsenal’s problems?


The Senegalese defender is currently playing in Belgium for Anderlecht and has been in impressive form and with him only be 23 will have a lot of time to develop and get better. He can also play in the holding midfielder role so his distribution is very good and not only does he stop attacks but he also starts them from the back, which means that he would certainly fit into Arsene Wenger’s style of play. Kouyate has nearly played 100 league games for Anderlecht and also has five international caps to his name and played at the London Olympics for his country in 2012.

Kouyate has already announced that he will be leaving the Belgian side in the summer and with Anzhi Makhachkala and Borussia Dortmund also said to be keen on the player, Arsenal may have to move quickly if they are to sign him. Arsenal have expressed their interest in the player a few times but that has never came to anything, however this time could be different and it seems a lot more likely that a transfer will come off.

But what does this mean for Arsenal’s other centre backs? At the minute they only really have three centre backs anyway, so it doesn’t mean that somebody has to leave. Sebastien Squillaci is still at the club but he really shouldn’t be and has been an awful signing and I fully expect him to leave this summer. On to the other three and in my opinion there isn’t much between them at all and that is because they are all as inconsistent as each other.

Firstly, Thomas Vermaelen has got quite a lot of praise for his time at Arsenal but for me he hasn’t been that great and at times looked more interested in adding to his goal tally than actually defending his own goal. He can be very good at times and got away with some poor performances in his first season because he did score eight goals but now they have dried up, fans have been more critical. In his defence though he did miss almost a full season through injury so I am possibly being a bit harsh.

Per Mertesacker is another defender that came to Arsenal with a good reputation but on the whole has been too slow and cost his team on several occasions. It is surprising that he has struggled at times because he is a German international and has a lot of caps to his name but put him in a one on one situation with basically any Premier League striker and he is struggling.

Finally, Laurent Koscielny is possibly the most frustrating to me because he looks very good for spells and then he will just have an awful game and seems to lack the required concentration to be a first choice centre back in the Premier League. All the defenders have good qualities and maybe if they weren’t in a team competing in the Champions League and expected to win trophies they would be seen as brilliant players. But to put it simply, Arsenal score enough goals to win trophies they just simply cannot defend and a lot of this is because of how poor they are in the centre of their defence.

Who is to blame?

Who is to blame?

Intersting ties in the 3rd of the FA Cup

The draw for the 3rd round of the FA Cup is one of the most exciting days in the football calendar as it can throw up fixtures that nobody will have even imagined.

Clubs from the lower leagues want to draw a big Premier League side and this year hasn’t disappointed in that respect, with the winner of Lincoln City and Mansfield Town hosting Liverpool. This will add even more incentive to the replay and both teams will be hoping that the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez will be visiting their stadiums in the very near future. Personally, this is what makes the FA Cup special and in recent years the competition has lost a little of its spark but a tie like this will get a lot of attention and possibly even a giant killing.

Two other teams that have to play again are Harrogate Town and Hastings Town and these will be equally looking to win their game after seeing the draw as they will get to travel to former Premier League side Middlesbrough. The team from Teeside may not be in the top league anymore but under Tony Mowbray they are certainly challenging for a place in the playoffs at least.

Looking at potential upsets in this round, you certainly don’t have to look further than Brighton as they have been drawn against Newcastle United, who they also beat in the competition last year and with the Europa League participants not having the best of times at the moment, I expect this game to be on television so more viewers can see if Brighton can win. Other similar to this are high flying Crystal Palace against Stoke City. The Championship side will be looking to test themselves against an experienced and consistent Premier League side and if they can get through the tie then their fans will be optimistic for the rest of the season and their challenge in the Premier League if they do get promoted at the end of the season.

Two more potential shocks in my mind are Crawley Town vs Reading because Reading may be distracted by their own league form and may discount the cup this season. Also, Luton Town vs Wolves could be a potential shock as going away to a non-league side is always difficult, no matter what position you are in.

Finally, the FA Cup also throws up a few interesting all Premier League ties and this year the biggest one is probably West Ham United and Manchester United who will both be looking for good cup runs this year. West Ham may have hoped for an easier tie but you cannot count them out and will be doing all they can to qualify for the fourth round. Swansea have been given an equally difficult draw at home to Arsenal, but their last performance against the Gunners will give them a lot of confidence but Arsene Wenger really needs a trophy this year and the FA Cup may be the last one they can realistically go for.

Which Carling Cup Quarter Final game looks the most exciting?

The fourth round of the Carling Cup produced some of the most exciting games in the whole season so far.

With Arsenal coming from 4-0 down to eventually beat Reading 7-5 in extra time and Chelsea scoring five goals against Manchester United to defeat them 5-4, it will certainly tough to find more exciting games this season and I doubt all of their defences will be as bad as this again. The team I feel most sorry for though are Bradford City because they knocked out a Premier League side in Wigan Athletic on penalties and on a normal week, this would have been the main headline surely. Also, a special mention to both Leeds United and Middlesbrough for knocking out Premier League opposition too. Swansea City and Norwich City also won games which many people didn’t expect and I am sure the fans of Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool would have expected to be in the draw for the next round.

So, onto the next round and I think it is difficult to choose which games will be the most exciting, but I am going to look at them all and see what I think. Leeds United against Chelsea will be very interesting as this could be the shock of the round in my opinion, because Chelsea may be more focused on their World Club Championship participation and may not take this game as seriously as they should. Leeds are a good side and under Neil Warnock they will give anyone a game, just ask Everton and Southampton.

Swansea against Middlesbrough is yet another tough one to call. The North East team have a lot of momentum at the moment and if they can keep that going, I believe they have enough quality to beat the Welsh side. But, Swansea could be the dark horses for the competition in my opinion, they have a decent record at home and if they play to their potential, then Boro may not get a kick all game.

Paul Lambert will be up against his former club Norwich City yet again and he will be hoping that his Aston Villa side can produce the goods on the night and qualify for the semi finals. But, Norwich are just starting to pick up under Chris Hughton and some very good wins at home in recent weeks have been much needed and also very impressive.

Finally, League 2 Bradford have been drawn against Arsenal at home and I don’t think they could have got a better draw as being at home gives them a little more of a chance of sneaking a result. Although this is very unlikely, they will surely get a big crowd it will just remind the football world once more that Bradford are quite a big club and it wasn’t that long ago they were playing in the Premier League. It is a lose-lose situation for Arsene Wenger’s side because they are expected to win but if they don’t put four or five past them then they may get slated.

Which game are you most looking forward to? Who will provide the biggest shock? At this stage who do you see winning the trophy?

How will the English teams perform in the Champions League group stages?

The Champions League group stage has been drawn and even though English teams are usually very good at qualifying through their group it may not be as easy this team.

No doubt, Manchester City have the hardest group with Spanish giants Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund. Madrid may pose the biggest threat with Jose Mourinho as their manager and he will be desperate to win the trophy again. Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously one of their biggest threats but they have quality all through their side and if City want to prove they are one of the best teams in Europe they will have to top the group and show up the former Chelsea manager. But, City may not even get in the top two because Ajax have a lot of quality themselves with players like Christian Eriksen in their side and you cannot discount Dortmund as they should never have been in the bottom pot anyway and have won the German league twice in a row.

Now, neighbours Manchester United have a much easier task as they should top the group if they play to their potential and I can’t see Braga, Galatasaray or Cluj topping this group. The current Galatasaray squad contains a few former Premier League players in Milan Baros, Emmanuel Eboue and Johan Elmander so they will want to show their quality and show everyone they are good enough against English opposition. Braga are an interesting side but unfortunately for them they can never seem to take that extra step and compete right at the very top and are seen as the customary third place team in Portugal. Cluj will probably be the whipping boys of the group however it is worth noting that they have beaten Roma and drawn with Chelsea in the past so they may be dark horses.

Arsenal will face Schalke, Olympiakos and Montpellier in their group matches and they will also be hoping that they don’t have too many problems. Arsenal new boy Olivier Giroud will travel to the club he signed from a lot sooner than he probably expected and the French champions will want to show Giroud that he was wrong for leaving and should have stayed but I can’t see them posing too much of a threat. What separates Schalke from the rest in this group is they have a goal scorer that is feared all over Europe and can score all different types of goals and that man is Klaas Jan Huntelaar, he will try and show Arsene Wenger that maybe he should have tried to sign him instead of Lukas Podolski and Giroud. Olympiakos will always cause problems at home for any team so they will be relying on that and goalkeeper Roy Carroll may have a lot of work to do in the group stages.

Finally, reigning champions Chelsea will be hoping to start their campaign comfortably and they will surely progress but may not get things their own way with Shaktar Donetsk, Juventus and Nordsjaelland in their group. The standout team is Juventus but they are not the team they once were even though they were very impressive in Serie A last season. But, if Chelsea can stop Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in midfield they will have a great chance of winning the group. Shaktar are also a decent side and have won the Ukrainian title for the last two seasons so they may put more of an effort into trying to topple some of the bigger teams in Europe this year and it is always difficult to play away in Eastern Europe so that could be difficult for Chelsea. Nordsjaelland are the current Danish champions but not a lot is known about them so everyone is expecting them to lose all of their games but this could work in their advantage and they could pull off a few shocks

Will Clint Dempsey leave Fulham this summer?

The Clint Dempsey transfer saga could run and run for the whole of the summer and come down to the last day.

Dempsey has scored 50 Premier League goals

Fulham will definitely not want to lose one of their main players and it seems like the player is very happy at the club but money talks in football and I am sure he is a very ambitious man and will want to have a better chance of challenging for trophies. Also, he seemed to thrive under the pressure of playing in Europe so he will want to have another go in the Europa League as well seen as though he got so close to winning it a few years ago. Dempsey scored 23 goals in 46 appearances last year and this has made him hot property with a number of clubs keeping tabs on the situation. With 17 goals in the Premier League he has just proved his quality finally as I believe he has been one of the most underrated players in the league for a number of years now. If he was slightly younger then he would go for a much bigger price but he is 29 and can be a star for a while to come.

Liverpool have been the team chasing his signature all summer so far with manager Brendan Rodgers confirming the club have had contact with Fulham over the player and they have been reported several times to be close to signing him. However, not everything you read in the papers is true and they may not have bid for him as they may not want to pay the price Fulham want for him. He is a very good player and can fit into many different systems which is obviously very beneficial to any side and he will provide a goal scoring threat from either one of the front three or even one of the three midfielders.

The American international would be a very good fit in my opinion at Arsenal as they seem to lack a goal scoring midfielder these days and with the expected departure of Robin Van Persie they need to try and replace his goals with someone experienced in the Premier League. For too long Arsene Wenger has tried to bring players through or sign younger players but now they could be dropping out of the top four and something needs to change if they want to keep up with the top teams. If they could get him for £10 million then it would be an absolute steal.

Finally and a little surprisingly Newcastle United are linked with him and as much as this would be a good move for all parties, I just cannot see it happening with Newcastle seemingly focused on other players and them targeting younger players so they have a better resale value in years to come. It is a possibility as he would add a lot of quality to the squad and take a bit of the goal scoring pressure off Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, plus they are playing in Europe this year so he probably would be willing to join. But I really just don’t see it happening at all.

Who will Leighton Baines play for next season?

Everton left back Leighton Baines is being linked with a move away from Goodison Park this summer but would a move be good for him?

Baines has eight caps for England

The 27 year old has been one of the best fullbacks in the Premier League for a number of years now and I am quite surprised he hasn’t been snapped up by one of the teams in the Champions League but this summer could finally be the time when he leaves Everton. He has played 202 games for the Merseyside club and scored 15 goals in his five years at the club which just shows how consistent he has been. Defensively he is rarely caught out even though he isn’t the quickest as his positioning and anticipation are both very good but it is offensively that he is at his best. He is able to put in quality crosses on a consistent basis and provides support for his winger. Baines is vital to the team because he provides a lot of the width with whoever plays on the left usually likes to cut inside which means he has to always be an option. I don’t think he should leave Everton because they are a good team with one of the best managers in the Premier League and they have been close to winning trophies in the last couple of years and I think they could finish in a European place next season.

But if he does decide to leave, I don’t think the Everton fans should be too upset and angry at him as the only clubs that he would realistically leave for will be in the Champions League year after year. So the reason he would leave would be ambition rather than for money reasons in my opinion. He is most heavily linked with Manchester United who at the moment will be unwilling to pay the fee that is being reported but may be forced to if they want their man. After letting Fabio join QPR on loan it is clear they do need another left back and Baines is one of the best around and they want to topple neighbours Manchester City next season so they will have to recruit the best. It would be a great move for the player himself and may give him more of a chance of becoming England’s first choice left back. However, will he want to play second fiddle to Patrice Evra and if he can’t get enough game time then this move will be a waste of time. The other possibility is that he is being brought into replace Evra who in my opinion hasn’t been at his best for a number of years now.

Another club that should be interested is Arsenal because they need strengthening at left back in my opinion with Kieran Gibbs still looking a little suspect when defending and Andre Santos not much better. He would certainly add more composure to the defence and give them a lot more stability over on the left hand side. Whether Arsene Wenger will be willing to pay over £10 million for him though is another question but with the possibility of him having extra funds because of the expected departure of Robin Van Persie he may want to strengthen his defence.

Young guns save Arsene Wenger and Arsenal

When you go 2-0 down at home, you look towards your experienced players to get you back into the game but not at Arsenal, although Robin Van Persie, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott all played in part in rescuing the game, all the plaudits should go to a young Englishman and a Young Welshman.

Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain may have saved Arsene Wenger’s job and kept Arsenal in the FA Cup because they both played brilliantly in the second half to get Arsenal a victory that looked very unlikely at halftime. I have been praising Ramsey all season as one of Arsenal’s best players this season and if it wasn’t for the incredible form of Van Persie he would have easily won the Player of the Year trophy at the club. He plays with football in the right way always wanting the ball to feet and most of the time plays it simple and just gives it to a teammate but he also has the quality to unlock defences with his driving runs and precise through balls. The Welsh captain has so much energy and covers the whole pitch in a game, he is a proper box to box midfielder and although he may not be the best at defending he is always prepared to get back and help out his defence. The goal that got Arsenal back into the game was from the penalty spot which Ramsey won after a clumsy challenge from Villa centre back Richard Dunne who was lucky to stay on the pitch. However, it was fortunate that Dunne flung himself into the tackle because Ramsey had taken a loose touch and the ball was trickling through to the goalkeeper.

On the wing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain impressed me yet again after a good performance against Manchester United. His willingness to take players on and commit defenders shows that he is not scared of taking on the Premier League and maybe Wenger waited too long to put him into the action as Andrei Arshavin has had a horrendous season. In my opinion he has an outside chance of making Fabio Capello’s squad for the Euro 2012 because he would give England some additional pace and seems quite powerful especially for someone quite young. Although the problem is he will have to get past Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young and Adam Johnson just to have a chance of getting in the squad. In my opinion he actually looks better than Walcott, it would be fantastic to see them in a straight race as they both have exceptional pace but I believe that Oxlade Chamberlain may possess a better final ball and in time will create more chances for teammates and score more goals.

Yes Van Persie needed to stay calm and composed to score the two penalties and Walcott did show some great skill for his goal even though it did just end up deflecting off him but the two young guns deserve more praise as even in the first half they looked the best players on the pitch. Wenger deserves credit too as his team talk must have inspired his troops and maybe even Thierry Henry had a role to play in the dressing room. This is the type of heart and desire Arsenal fans were expecting all season and they have got to hope that the players show this type of commitment for the rest of the season so they can end their long run without a trophy

Super Sunday- The verdict

So it was the Super Sunday Sky Sports billed it as, long gone are the days when viewers had to watch Chelsea and Manchester United battle out a 0-0 draw, we finally have goals to go with the best players in the league, but where to start, should Balotelli have even been on the pitch to score the last minute penalty? Are Spurs genuine title contenders? Is Welbeck the man to lead the England strike force at Euro 2012?

Well, I am going to start with Arsenal and has Arsene Wenger’s time at the Gunners come to an end? He made a strange decision today that actually cost his team which led to half the stadium booing the manager’s decision. He took off arguably the best player on the pitch in Alex Oxlade Chamberlain for Andrei Arshavin who failed to defend against Antonio Valencia properly and he eventually set up the winner for Welbeck. There is no doubt Wenger has been one of Arsenal’s greatest ever managers but the club haven’t won a trophy in years and are finally losing their grip on a top four place and are currently the second best team in North London which must hurt the fans more than anything. He has failed to invest in experienced players and the team looks short of quality with only Robin Van Persie, Aaron Ramsey and Thomas Vermaelen looking like top players on a consistent basis. Koscielny at the back has improved this season but still looks like he is prone to mistakes and yes Arsenal are struggling with injuries as was shown with Johan Djourou ripped apart by Nani in the first half and then being replaced by an 18 year old in Yennaris, yet Wenger still refuses to spend any money.

If Arsenal fail to finish in the top four then Arsene Wenger should step down if he is not sacked as he has done a fantastic job but the team is going backwards and therefore needs a change or Tottenham will leave them behind.

So onto Spurs, they performed admirably against Manchester City and deserved at least a draw against the team currently at the top of the table, doing this without their main striker this season Emmanuel Adebayor. But, Jermain Defoe played pretty well and has also made it known to Capello that he wants to be in the England squad this summer. He capitalised on a defensive error and rounded Hart with ease and always looked a threat throughout the game. Tottenham are most definitely title challengers because they have players like Gareth Bale who can rip apart any team in the world with his direct running and incredible pace, when the Welshman gets going he is hard to stop. His goal was sublime and no keeper in the world would have saved it and then he showed all of his abilities in the last few minutes to run rings round the City defence and then square the ball for Defoe who agonisingly missed the ball by inches. Seconds later Balotelli won a penalty and scored it but earlier in the game he probably should have been sent off for a stamp however the referee must not have seen it clearly as he stayed on the pitch and ended up winning the game. When they went 2-0 up they must have thought the game was up after David Silva had shown yet again that he is one of the best players in the league by putting Samir Nasri through with an inch perfect through ball that Nasri finished clinically. But champions win games when it’s not looking likely which has now happened twice in a row with the result against Spurs and the 1-0 win against Wigan.

However, do not discount Manchester United just yet, as they pulled off another victory when they weren’t at their best. The first half they were comfortable and looked like the only team in the game but in the second half when Arsenal picked up the game they had to defend stoutly and remain resilient which they did and if it wasn’t for Van Persie’s brilliance then they probably would have kept a clean sheet although that same player missed an absolute sitter after a mistake from Chris Smalling. The difference in the game was the manager’s decision making as Fergie’s changes changed the game positively for the team, firstly bringing on Rafael for the injured Phil Jones which allowed Valencia to be at the back post to put them ahead, then taking off Rafael for Park Ji Sung so Valencia dropped back to right back and set up the all important goal for United.

Welbeck scored the winner and his partnership with Wayne Rooney is starting to look really promising and this can only be a good thing for club and country. He was making a lot of runs behind the defence looking for through balls while Rooney was dropping deep and looking to slide it through for him. Maybe he won’t be top of the list to start at the Euros but he is definitely one for the future but if he keeps performing and scoring big goals he may just find himself in the starting 11.

At the end of the day it is Manchester 2-0 London and with the way things are looking this trend could continue for a while to come. However, it is refreshing to see all four of the top teams like to play attacking football and I think Tottenham under Redknapp will continue to improve and could possibly break Manchester’s dominance at the very top of the league and maybe even win the trophy. But if the England job becomes available will he stay at Spurs or answer the call from the FA? Will Tottenham be as good under a different manager?