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 Robin Van Persie sign for if he is allowed to leave Arsenal?

The transfer saga that will dominate the headlines this summer will once again involve Arsenal and their captain.

This time it is Robin Van Persie when in previous years it has been Cesc Fabregas, however it does still go even further back than that with both Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira getting linked away from the club every summer. I am not going to go into whether Arsenal are a ‘selling club’ or not because they in my opinion work the transfer market the right way by basically living within their means and even though the fans may not like it, they must accept it.

Van Persie has scored 132 goals in 279 games for Arsenal

I am going to focus more on Van Persie and you can see why he is being linked with the champions from a lot of countries around Europe after last season as he was phenomenal and was probably the best player in the Premier League. He scored 37 goals last season in all competitions but Arsenal still failed to win a trophy and you can understand the reason he wants to leave the club as even with his impressive goal tally, they never looked like winning the Premier League (mostly because of a poor start) and were easily knocked out of the Champions League after a very poor first leg.

Most clubs in the world would love to have the Dutchman in their squads but surely there are only a few that he would want to join. Unsurprisingly, Manchester City are the favourites to sign him and out of everyone in the Premier League I personally think this is the only team he would contemplate signing for. City have bought quite a few players from Arsenal including Samir Nasri last summer so they know they can do business with Arsenal and they won’t refuse to sell RVP to them. But in my opinion they would have to sell a striker first as they have Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli all fighting for a first team place already. Personally, I would only have Van Persie over Dzeko so I don’t see the need of them signing him but they will probably try anyway.

Juventus are also heavily linked with RVP and you can see it is because they lack a real goal scorer in their team and if they want to challenge for the Champions league next season then they most definitely need more goals in their side with Alessandro Matri only getting 10 league goals and Mirko Vucinic not even hitting double figures, they need someone that is going to get at least 20 goals. Andrea Pirlo showed at the Euros that he can still be a brilliant player and RVP would score goals for fun with his playmaking abilities. At times, Van Persie made Alex Song look like a pass master with his movement so imagine how good Pirlo will look.

Finally, Barcelona are also linked with him and yet again it is not very surprising to see their name come up however some of the rumours are. If they sign the Arsenal man, they may be looking to offload David Villa who is now 30 and has been out for eight months with a broken leg. If I was negotiating this deal I would definitely try and make it a swap deal. I think Villa is a better player than Van Persie and if he can recapture his form before he suffered his injury then he could actually make Arsenal a better team.

Fredrik Ljungberg’s next move

Fredrik Ljungberg wants to rejoin the Premier League after leaving Shimizu S-Pulse by mutual consent. He does not want to join any Premier League club either with him stating that he wants to join a team that will be challenging at the top of the table. Surely, this means he wants to follow in the footsteps of Thierry Henry because I cannot see Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea wanting to sign him as he is getting towards the end of his career.

Since leaving Arsenal he has not been able to settle anywhere having short spells at West Ham, Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire and Celtic but can he still offer something in the Premier League. He possibly could give Arsenal a lift with them suffering a humiliating defeat against AC Milan, and he is still a very intelligent footballer and will be able to get himself into good positions, pace wasn’t his greatest attribute therefore he has always had to rely on other attributes to influence games.

If he got given a contract till the end of the season, he may be able to produce some moments of magic like Henry has done in his short loan spell but will it really be worth it for him and the club? Probably not because I cannot imagine he would start many games ahead of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain so if he did play he would have to play as a central midfielder. Yet again, it’s unlikely that he will be able to get ahead of Aaron Ramsey, Alex song or Mikel Arteta in the pecking order, plus he is about the same level of Tomas Rosicky so he would most certainly be a squad player and at this late stage of his career surely he will want to play as many games as he can.

So if he wants to come back to England he has to look further down the league, I could see Liverpool possibly being interested to add a bit of experience to their squad but they do have quite a few midfielders already so he wouldn’t be guaranteed a start.

The team I think he is most likely to sign for is actually QPR because they will be able to guarantee him a game most weeks, with him playing on the right and Joey Barton playing in the middle. Also they could offer him a very good wage which will obviously interest him but will he want to be involved in a relegation battle.

I would like to see him back playing in England because when he is on form he was one of the very best in the league and scored some very important goals. The Swedish international was a key part of the Arsenal side which played some fantastic attacking football and if he can recreate these types of performance whoever he signs for have got a real player on their hands and may make a big difference to where the team finishes in the league.

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

David Beckham signs new contract for LA Galaxy

David Beckham has signed a new two year contract at LA Galaxy ending speculation  that he could be joining a European club.

Beckham has played 81 games for the American side scoring 12 goals and providing 28 assists. He went to America to raise the profile of the game over there and it is debatable whether his arrival has had an impact however one thing that has changed is that now players coming to the end of their careers are now looking for one last big pay cheque by going over there. The most notable being Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane but both of these have returned on loan to Premier League clubs, Henry rejoining Arsenal and Keane joining Aston Villa.

Also what is worth noting is that LA Galaxy have given Beckham permission to play for Great Britain in the Olympics if he is selected by Stuart Pearce as one of the three over age players. This must have clinched the deal for the former Manchester United midfielder as he had reportedly turned down a move to PSG because of family reasons which would suggest that Victoria and the rest of the family are very happy in LA.

However, the only negative he will see is that surely now he is staying with Galaxy he has almost certainly ruled out any chance of being selected for Euro 2012 but I have a suspicion that with all the work he put in to get the Olympics in London in 2012 he would prefer to be playing for Great Britain as Stuart Pearce has already said anyone going to the Euros won’t be selected.

Even though he is playing in a league that is well below the level he could still play at, he has made a good choice as he is trying to do good in the game by getting more people in America involved in the sport instead of it being behind American Football, Basketball, Baseball and possibly even Hockey. Only a small minority play soccer in American and if they could get more players involved they would produce some of the best players in the world just because of the sheer size of the country.

Back to the former England captain, it would have been good to have seen him back playing in the Premier League before he retired but that seems unlikely now. He did say he wouldn’t play for another club in England apart from Manchester United and he must have been thinking after watching Paul Scholes return and some bets (yes actual money) being placed on Phil Neville to return from Everton, that Sir Alex Ferguson may be tempted to pick up the phone and give him one final chance at Old Trafford.

It would not be surprising to have to call him Sir David Beckham in years to come as his services to football, charity and getting the Olympics to London have been nothing short of outstanding. He has always been a model professional and always wore the shirt of whichever team he was playing for with pride.

Finally can anyone remember a better moment in the last 20 years for England when he scored that penalty against Argentina in the 2002 World Cup? Because I can’t and for this moment alone he should be remembered as a fantastic player and captain for England.

Thierry Henry- The return of the Gunners legend

With a weekend of retuning legends, Thierry Henry has overshadowed Paul Scholes and looks every bit as good as when he left all those years ago for Barcelona. He may not have the pace anymore but he knows where the space is and he exploited it magnificently in his second debut against Leeds in the FA cup.

Yes it is against lower opposition but Henry did what Chamakh couldn’t in 68 minutes and that was score against a resolute Leeds defence. The way he moved inside the full back was clever and then he showed the finesse to coolly slot the ball past the advancing keeper as he has done so many times for Arsenal.

He might just give Arsenal the spark they need to challenge for honours once again and Arsene Wenger may be glad he brought him back and even just on this one cameo performance may be regretting ever letting him go in the first place.

His celebration showed everyone he still has the passion and wears the Gunners shirt with pride and the way he hugged his gaffer shows the respect he has for the man that made him the player he is essentially. Henry signed for Arsenal after a poor spell in Italy and the fans were probably struggling to work out why Wenger was so desperate to get him and paid then what seemed to be a lot of money which now seems insignificant after all the goals he scored and there have been some special ones. The one that springs to mind the most is when he flicked the ball up for himself and volleyed it past fellow Frenchman Fabien Barthez in a massive game against title challengers Manchester United. Simply, the audacity to try that in such a big game shows that he doesn’t let pressure get to him and he can turn it on in the big games which many of Arsenal’s big stars have failed to do in recent seasons.

Arsenal fans will be wishing that the loan lasts only two months because he could prove the big difference between them winning trophies and flattering to deceive as they have done so many times. If he had been in the team against Birmingham City in the Carling Cup final would the result have been any different?

The frightening thing is if he can produce the goods and strike up a  good partnership with currently the most in form striker in the Premier League Robin Van Persie then Arsenal will once again be a team that everyone fears.

Looking at things that have changed at Arsenal, there is no Fabregas, Pires, Ljungberg, Vieira or Bergkamp so he will have to play alongside the inconsistent Walcott, the promising but young midfielder Aaron Ramsey and the sometimes lazy Andrei Arshavin but what Wenger is hoping for along with goals is that he can mentor these players and teach them things as he did against Leeds, whilst sitting on the bench, Arshavin put a shot over the bar and straightaway Henry leaned into Walcott and gave him some tips on what to do in that situation and the England international seemed to be hanging on his every word.

His teammates may not be as good as they once were but he could still light up the Premier League with a hatful of goals and majestic performances we all know he is capable of. He hasn’t lost his footballing ability. So can he bring the va va voom back to the Premier League

Paul Scholes back in United colours

The return of Paul Scholes was kept very quiet by Manchester United with even Wayne Rooney in saying he didn’t know he was returning. It seemed like such a perfect time for Scholes to come on against Manchester City in the FA Cup with his team 3-1 up and also a man up after a controversial red card for Vincent Kompany, but the midfielder will be devastated with his return giving away possession cheaply which led to Aguero scoring and making it a tough end to a game which United should have easily strolled to victory.

After Thierry Henry joined Arsenal on loan for two months, I thought that would be the only player that returned to a former club but then Manchester United surprise us all by bringing back Scholes which shows how desperate they are at the moment and how poor Alex Ferguson believes his team are in the middle of the park. It seems like a very strange decision to me, as Fergie usually trusts his team and trusts his replacements but not this time, he obviously feels he did not adequately replace the former England man and his team are suffering because of it.

I thought Scholes should have continued anyway but because he retired and has now come back, I think it is the wrong decision as he said himself he retired because he didn’t feel he could offer the team anything anymore. But in his favour is the form of Stephen Carr at Birmingham City, who retired but came back into football and has looked as dependable as ever at right back. However, right back and centre midfield are very different, he won’t be able to get around the pitch as much and the game may pass him by if his fitness is not up to a high standard.

If you look at the last few years he had adapted his game anyway and seemed to be more of a holding midfielder who looked to get on the ball and spray passes round the pitch which he can probably still do because you do not lose that ability after only a few months out of the game. At the start of his career, he was a player that liked to get into the box and score goals but I cannot see him scoring many goals in his return for United but he did have one very good strike against City which he hit very cleanly and sweetly so he may pop up with the odd long ranger.

His technique has always been fantastic and his goal against Aston Villa a few years ago when he scored a fantastic first time volley from outside the box is one of the best ever in the Premier League and Alex Ferguson will be hoping he can produce magic moments like that from now until the end of the season.

It is a gamble but if he can have an influence in the game he plays, we may see Manchester United crowned champions yet again but if he fails and puts in poor performances his career at United may be tarnished by this decision.

As they say you shouldn’t go back to your old club especially when you left on a high. Over to you Scholesy