Posted by Barrie on Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Arsenal Bet Comes in as They Close in on the Leaders

Abou Diaby scored the only goal of the game as Arsenal closed the gap on Chelsea and Manchester United this evening.

As I posted in my blog earlier this evening, Arsenal were the best bet tonight, as I backed them at evens to win and at 5/2 to win to nil. Both bets came in as little else did this evening. But I ended up with another profit so I won't complain.

Manchester United done well to take a point from Villa Park this evening, having firstly gone behind to a Carlos Cuellar goal. A James Collins own goal tied the game up shortly after before Nani was sent off with a straight red card for a two footed tackle after half hour. A 1-1 draw turned out to be a good result as Chelsea lost 2-1 at Everton, leaving Manchester United 1 point behind the leaders.

Florent Malouda had given Chelsea the lead inside 20 minutes and my lay bet wasn't looking too good. But Louis Saha equalised from a corner, quarter of an hour later before having a penalty saved by Petr Cech on half time. It was Saha who scored the winner 15 minutes from time as Everton moved back up to 9th in the table.

Arsenal's 1-0 victory over Liverpool sees them close the gap to 6 points behind Chelsea with a dozen games remaining. With all the big guns out of the way now, their fans may fancy their chances for the title.

My biggest loser was on Tottenham this evening. That's two 1-0 defeats to Wolves this season, both I never saw coming against strong Tottenham line ups.

Manchester City's 2-0 victory over Bolton last night moved them into 5th position where they stay tonight. They are level on points with 4th place Liverpool with 2 games in hand. They travel to Stoke next week after hosting them in the FA Cup at the weekend.

In the other Premier League fixtures that I overlooked this evening, Blackburn beat Hull City 1-0 and West Ham beat Birmingham City 2-0.

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What Do Tonight's Odds Tell Us?

At the beginning of the week, Arsenal could be found at evens and above from nearly all of your top online bookmakers. Now, less than 3 hours before kickoff and some bookmakers aren't even giving you evens.

Since Monday there hasn't been any negative Liverpool team news, and now fitness boosts for Arsenal. So the shortening of Arsenal's odds has come from a large number of punters backing Arsenal. Despite their bad form, I am one of those jumping on the bandwagon for tonight's game.

Morale may be low at Arsenal, and they may have been held here 1-1 by Liverpool in the past two seasons, but they're a better side than Liverpool this season. Arsenal's two defeats in their past two games have come against the top two teams in the league. Hopefully they will have learnt something about being left exposed on the counter attack ahead of tonight's game too.

Andrey Arshavin hasn't been his influential self in their last two games, but he has a fantastic record against Liverpool (mainly based on the 4 goals he struck at Anfield last season). He is one to watch in this game, as will Cesc Fabregas, whom also went quiet in Arsenal's last two games. And that is part of the reason for their defeats. If/when these two get back to their usual ways tonight, Liverpool are going to have more than their fair share of work. Cesc Fabregas will likely match up in the centre of midfield against Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Lucas. I don't doubt his ability to take it passed either one of those nor pass his way through the Liverpool team. Expect Fabregas to shine if Gerrard pushes too far forward. Arshavin meanwhile has looked lost at sea playing as a lone striker. Arsene Wenger should think twice about doing the same tonight. Instead I can see him dropping back or to the right hand side of midfield and Nicklas Bendtner taking the lone role up front. A position he is more suited for.

Between Arshavin, Fabregas, Bendtner, Samir Nasri and whoever else plays for Arsenal, they should be able to break down this Liverpool defence, regardless of their 6 clean sheets in 7 games. Arsenal have beat Liverpool 2-1 twice this season.

Apart from Steven Gerrard's long range efforts, Liverpool's best opportunities should fall from set pieces. Manuel Almunia is one of the most unconvincing keepers at dealing with them in the Premier League. And the small group of players with a lack of physicality doesn't help either. Add that to the lack of a player at the far post on Sunday, allowed Didier Drogba to score from close range following John Terry's flick on.

Liverpool don't have much quality going forward. Steven Gerrard has only 1 goal in his last 11 Premier League games. David N'Gog isn't doing much better (1 in 10), and lacking confidence and self belief seemingly. As well as talent. Dirk Kuyt is a man in form (4 in his last 4), but the Arsenal centre back partnership of William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen, protected by Alex Song should keep him off the scoresheet tonight.

Arsenal are evens to win with Skybet tonight. If you're feeling more confident, they're 5/2 to win to nil.

If Arsenal can win, they will be considered title contenders again should Chelsea and Manchester United fail to win their tough away fixtures this evening. Manchester United travel to Aston Villa, a side they use to dominate. That mastery is beginning to attenuate. They were held here 0-0 last season and were beat 1-0 at Old Trafford earlier this season. It took a stoppage time winner from Federico Macheda to snatch all 3 points from Aston Villa last season. Manchester United's odds have taken a small drop since Monday where they could be found at evens. With Wayne Rooney's form, can they keep in touching distance of Chelsea by beating Villa tonight? They are 5/6 to do so.

Chelsea themselves are at a morale-beaten Everton. Beaten by their most-hated rivals Liverpool on Saturday, with an extra man for most of the game. Everton can't be feeling too confident ahead of this match against the high-flying Premier League leaders. Chelsea's odds have shortened to 8/11 ahead of kickoff. But can they beat the same Everton side who held them at Stamford Bridge back in December?

Another bet I am going with this evening, is Tottenham to win at Wolves. They have something to prove following their home defeat by the midlands side back in December and I can see Harry Redknapp getting the best out of his team in this match. And the best from them would prevent Wolves from picking anything up from this match. Tottenham too are another side who have been well-backed over the past couple of days ahead of this match.

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Posted by Barrie on Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Arsenal Go Top of the Premier League

A 4-2 come-from-behind victory for Arsenal over Bolton this evening sent the Gunners to the top of the league on goals scored.

Gary Cahill and a Matt Taylor penalty gave Bolton a surprise 2-0 lead at the Emirates this evening before Tomas Rosicky pulled an important goal back just before half time. I took a risky bet with their odds of 11/10 being very tempting at half time. Goals from Cesc Fabregas, Thomas Vermaelen and Andrey Arshavin in the second half won my bet and handed Bolton a second defeat to Arsenal in 4 days.

Manchester United can return to the top of the league on Saturday if they beat Hull. Although United would have played 1 more game than Arsenal and 2 more than Chelsea who are currently 1 point ahead of them.

Despite Robin van Persie's long-term injury, goals from midfield have aided Arsenal's run that has got them in the position they are in. Cesc Fabregas is in a run of form that puts him amongst the Player of the Season award. His fitness and form are vital for Arsenal's title challenge that has become serious over the past few games.

Arsenal's next 4 Premier League games are crucial to them are their competitors for the title, as they visit Villa Park in a week's time, having beat Villa 3-0 on boxing day. Hosting Manchester United is their next game before a trip to Chelsea and back home to play Liverpool.

Liverpool tonight got their chances of a top 4 finish back on track and eased the pressure on Rafa Benitez with a 2-0 victory over Tottenham to put them within 1 point of their opponents who hang on to 4th spot. Dirk Kuyt scored both goals. Liverpool's next Premier League game is a trip to Wolves on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Aston Villa beat Blackburn Rovers 6-4 in their second leg of the Carling Cup semi final, winning 7-4 on aggregate and booking their place in February's final.

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Posted by Barrie on Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sol Campbell... Returning to Arsenal?

First Patrick Vieira returns to the Premier League. And now Sol Campbell is poised for a return to Arsenal. Yes, this is a blog being written in 2010 and not 2004!

According to Sky Sports, the former England international and Notts County centre back is playing for Arsenal in their reserve team match against West Ham this evening. Presumably he has been training with the side recently too.

Sol Campbell played for Arsenal between 2001 and 2006, winning the FA Cup 3 times, the Premier League twice and a Champions League runner up in his final season with the Gunners. He then moved to Portsmouth for three seasons.

In his day, Campbell was one of the top English defenders in the league. His strength mixed with his heading and tackling abilities were a big part of the Arsenal invincibles in 2003/04. While you would expect him to retain those abilities, his pace and fitness will be the big questions, now 35 and having been without a club since leaving Notts County in September. Campbell only played once for Notts County, a 2-1 defeat at Morecombe before walking out on the club.

Everyone who is freaking out about this trial should calm down and look at the big picture. Campbell would only be signed as backup to William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen who have paired up in every one of Arsenal's Premier League games this season. Campbell's services would then likely be limited and his experience could help their young reserves whom he plays with tonight. But Campbell is only on trial for now.

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Posted by Barrie on Friday, 18 December 2009

Champions League Draw Looks Good for English Sides

The Champions League is heavily favoured to come down between the English and Spanish sides once again as they were all kept apart in today's 2nd round draw.

The 3 remaining English sides and 2 of the 3 remaining Spanish sides make up the 5 favourites, with Barcelona being 3/1 favourites to become the first team to defend the Champions League. They were drawn out with Stuttgart in the second round today.

From the English perspective, 2nd favourites Chelsea have Inter Milan in their first knockout round match which will be one of top two most hyped matches in this round as it sees the current leaders of the Premier League facing the current leaders of Serie A and Jose Mourinho returning to Stamford Bridge for the first time since leaving.

Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan have been knocked out by Liverpool and Manchester United in his two previous Champions League campaigns. He has faced pressure because he hasn't taken them far in this competition and this unfortunate draw is likely to see his side eliminated in round 2 after struggling through the group stage.

While his side possess some world class talents, including Samuel Eto'o, Wesley Sneijder, Julio Cesar, Lucio and Esteban Cambiasso, they still have weaknesses in their first team and aren't up to the pace of the likes of Chelsea. The Italian league is behind in that sense and that goes some way to explaining why they haven't been competitive in the latter stages of the competition recently. Patrick Vieira was too slow to keep up with Manchester United last season, suggesting Arsene Wenger sold him at the right time.

Jose Mourinho's management skills should make this a competitive two legged affair, but I don't see Inter being able to eliminate his former team. This match may also see someone falling to the ground easier than Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge, if Mario Balotelli plays.

To continue the Anglo-Italian affair, the teams currently positioned second in their respective leagues also meet head-to-head in this year's Champions League as Manchester United take on AC Milan. With David Beckham set to move back on loan to Milan, he is likely to play at Old Trafford once again. His Milan team weren't impressive in the group stage but for a comeback win against Real Madrid. While they too have some talent, they don't match up too well 11 on 11 on paper against any of the 5 favourites. Manchester United will need to improve their attack by then. They have 2 months to do that. Whether it's getting Michael Owen back into shape, a youngster breaking through or a surprise January signing, something needs to improve. Other than that they should be comfortable winners in this match against a what I call overrated AC Milan side, from the few times I've see them this season at least.

Arsenal got FC Porto in their match and are clear favourites to progress. Porto are an experienced side in this competition but have looked weaker season on season since Jose Mourinho lead them to glory in 2004. They took 6 points off both Atletico Madrid and APOEL Nicosia in the group stages but didn't score a single goal in their two defeats to Chelsea. As long as Arsene Wenger doesn't take them too likely or his side aren't going through one of poor runs and William Gallas throwing tantrums, they will qualify with ease for the quarter finals.

All-in-all, injuries permitting, as of now our 3 remaining English sides look set to qualify for the quarter finals of the Champions League. This treble is currently 3.30 at bet365. Check out our Betting Blog for all of the Champions League odds following today's draw.

One final thing. If you're like myself and are relatively sure it's between the Spanish and English sides once again in this year's competition, there's a nice little arb currently available with any English side winning the Champions League at 13/8 with bet365 and any Spanish side winning the Champions League at 7/5 with Sportingbet.

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Posted by Barrie on Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Arsenal's Kids Fail to Score

Arsene Wenger fielded a lot of youngsters in his starting lineup for their trip to Olympiakos in the Champions League this evening, where they put on a good performance in terms of confidence and possession, but came away 1-0 losers.

They had already won the group before tonight, and Wenger, as he does fielded a very young side to give them experience on the big stage. When he done this last season, he came under criticism after a 2-0 defeat in Porto where they were overawed and the result saw them finish 2nd in the group. It hurt even more the following weekend when they drew at Middlesbrough in the Premier League.

But little criticism will head the way of the manager after this result. His side showed no fear as they passed the ball around freely and weren't intimidated by the Greek atmosphere. However they were made to pay for not creating many efforts, and not putting any away. Within 2 minutes of the restart, Olympiakos caught Arsenal's defence out as Leonardo raced past Kerrea Gilbert to roll the ball under Lukasz Fabianski for the only goal of the game. Gilbert was caught out on more than one occasion this evening. At the other end, Carlos Vela wasn't 2 one-on-one's as Arsenal failed to test Antonis Nikopolidis in the Olympiakos goal.

Theo Walcott, Mikael Silvestre and Alex Song were the most well-known players in the Arsenal starting lineup (is now the right moment to mention their left back, Tom Cruise?). Song won many a tackle for the Gunners as he does week in, week out. Theo Walcott wasn't as influential as Wenger may have been hoping. He miscontrolled a ball over the top that would have put him through one-on-one, while he didn't create enough goalscoring opportunities as Arsenal struggled in the final third of the field. It was similar to Manchester United when they lost 1-0 to Besiktas two weeks ago. Both Arsenal's and Manchester United's youngsters would have benefited from the experience of this and with the defeats being respectable scorelines it shouldn't have any negative impact on their confidence.

Liverpool were beat 2-1 at home to Fiorentina in this evening's Champions League, finishing 3rd in their group. They are now 7/1 favourites for the Europa League.

Last night Chelsea were held 2-2 at home to APOEL Nicosia in their final Champions League game, finishing as group winners. Manchester United were also group winners as Michael Owen stole the headlines in their 3-1 victory at Wolfsburg. The England international has been the talk of today with his performance, receiving endless praise and perhaps starting to payback those who doubted him at the end of the season. However, bookmakers aren't convinced by this one game performance. Michael Owen is 3/1 to make the England World Cup Squad.

The 16 qualifiers for the Champions League knockout stages are as follows:

Group winners
Manchester United
Real Madrid

Runners up
Bayern Munich
CSKA Moscow
AC Milan
FC Porto
Inter Milan
VfB Stuttgart

Domestic football returns at the weekend, so don't forget to check out our Premier League Tips, with previews going up tomorrow for Saturday's matches.

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Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 29 November 2009

Can Anyone Stop Chelsea Now?

Chelsea ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at the Emirates this afternoon, with help of a brace from Didier Drogba to extend their lead back to 5 points at the top of the Premier League.

Arsenal had good spells of possession, but were unable to seriously threaten Petr Cech's goal and were made to pay, firstly when Didier Drogba scored 5 minutes before half, setup by Ashley Cole. 4 minutes later it was an Ashley Cole cross aimed for Didier Drogba that was deflected into his own net by Thomas Vermaelen. Drogba completed the scoring 5 minutes from time and left the pitch with a huge smile on his face.

His strength was clearly a difference between the two sides. Arsenal don't have a strong player like him or several of the Chelsea side who can knock players off the ball, or in Drogba's case, knock them out of their way. It seems to be what is missing from them being able to compete for the title.

This result leaves Arsenal 11 points behind Chelsea, albeit with 1 game in hand, but are their championship chances over once again before the half way point?

Chelsea look immaculate under Carlo Ancelotti, having conceded just 8 goals in 14 games this season, and 6 clean sheets in a row at home. Arsenal were aiming for 100 Premier League goals not long ago, now haven't scored in their last 2 and sit 4th in the table. Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin and very little influence in the game. Can anyone stop Chelsea when they play like this?

Birmingham won the West Midlands derby earlier today thanks to a goal from Lee Bowyer, whilst Liverpool were 2-0 winners at Everton in the Merseyside derby, moving them up into 5th.

Chelsea go to Manchester City next week aiming to end their 7 game drawing streak. Will that be another 3 points for Chelsea? Check out our Premiership Tips during the week to get our thoughts on it.

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Posted by Barrie on Saturday, 21 November 2009

Chelsea Continue to Dominate | Sunderland Surprise Arsenal

Chelsea have temporarily extended their lead to 8 points at the top of the Premier League following today's 4-0 hammering of Wolves.

The Blues flew into a 3-0 lead halfway through the first half, starting with a goal from Florent Malouda after just 5 minutes. Michael Essien added a brace himself, and Joe Cole scored his first goal in the season in the second half as Chelsea win to nil in yet another home game this season.

Whilst Chelsea were in cruise control, Arsenal were struggling to create many chances at Sunderland, a place where the league leaders picked up 3 points earlier this season, and were eventually undone from a corner, with Darren Bent knocking home the winner inside the final 20 minutes. Bent scored the only goal when Sunderland beat Liverpool 1-0 earlier this season. Chelsea are the only big 4 side to have beaten Steve Bruce's side this season.

Bruce had been singing the praises of Arsenal manager prior to this game, and this result and previous ones this season have made him one of the most promising managers in the Premier League.

Manchester United kick off their game in hand with Everton shortly as they aim to close the gap to 5 points and keep their Premier League chances alive.

Liverpool failed to win again; now with just 1 win in their last 10 as they stole a late equaliser at home to Manchester City in the early kickoff today, City's 6th straight draw in the league. If you checked out our Premier League Tips this morning, we correctly tipped both teams to score and over 2.5 goals in this game, from which we hope brought you success earlier today.

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Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 8 November 2009

Chelsea Go 5 Points Clear

In a highly-anticipated game at Stamford Bridge this afternoon, the game failed to live up to its high expectations, but Chelsea came away with a massive and fortunate 3 points with a 1-0 victory over Manchester United thanks to a goal 15 minutes from time from John Terry.

Frank Lampard's free kick was headed home by John Terry, with Didier Drogba standing in front of Edwin van der Sar; making a crucial interference in an offside position, distracting the United keeper from being able to make the save.

Chelsea didn't perform at the high level everyone was expecting, with Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka not causing the problems to Manchester United's defence that was missing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic that we all expected.

Sir Alex Ferguson set up this team well, with Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Anderson providing an excellent shield in front of their defence, not allowing Drogba, Anelka, Lampard, Deco or Michael Essien to make an impact in the game.

Wayne Rooney played well, but couldn't take either of his few opportunities. The same for Ryan Giggs, while Darren Fletcher put in an excellent performance and didn't deserve to be on the losing side. Branislav Ivanovic was solid at right full back, both defending and going forward. He had the first shot of the game, saved comfortably by Edwin van der Sar at his near post.

Chelsea now have a 5 point lead at the top of the Premier League that Arsenal could cut to 2 by winning their game in hand. Manchester United have a lot to catch up work to do and it's hard to see Chelsea dropping many points this season. Arsenal are turning into contenders with their attacking prowess, scoring 4 goals again yesterday.

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Posted by Barrie on Wednesday, 21 October 2009

3 English Sides Top Champions League Groups

Liverpool's late 2-1 home defeat by Lyon on Tuesday night has put their qualification under serious threat, now 3 points behind Lyon who hold the second spot after Fiorentina have won all 3 of their opening games. Liverpool must avoid defeat in the return fixture in France, ideally winning if they don't want to continue their European football this season in the Europa League.

It's been a tough start for the Reds this season with their defence playing poorly and a lack creativity in midfield other than Steven Gerrard, who was replaced in the first half after picking up an injury that makes him a doubt for this weekend's big match with Manchester United in the Premier League. Up front, Dirk Kuyt hasn't been a regular goalscorer at Liverpool and David N'Gog looks like he's only playing to make up the numbers. Fernando Torres is leading the line on his own up front and Liverpool are relying on him and Steven Gerrard more than ever. Their early league form is starting to raise questions about their ability to qualify for the Champions League again next season.
Liverpool to qualify from Group E: 5/4

Arsenal conceded a stoppage time equaliser in Alkmaar to drop their 100% record in group H, but a 5 point lead over the Dutch side who sit 3rd is looking very comfortable for the Gunners. They're playing with confidence and looking very good in all competitions, but I think the lack of leadership and a dependable goalkeeper will eventually cost them in this competition. I wouldn't rule them out completely, but there's a lot more stronger sides out there that Arsenal have avoided in their group and therefore haven't been tested against.
Arsenal to win Champions League: 10/1

Manchester United are looking very good as well, stealing a late winner in Moscow this evening in a tough match that maintains their 100% record in group B and would be all-but-qualified with a victory against CSKA in the return match on November 3rd with 2 games to spare. Wins in Turkey and Russia have shown United's credentials and will always be serious contenders in this competition and any they enter with Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm. Strength in depth is important and they've got that.
Manchester United to win Champions League: 7/1

Chelsea steamrolled a lacklustre Atletico Madrid side this evening despite being held out for 40 minutes. With their 100% record, 1 more win from their final 3 games will guarantee them progress. They've kept clean sheets in all 3 of their games too and with Manchester United they look like England's best hope of lifting this year's trophy. Strength in depth is an understatement and Carlo Ancelotti was brought in to lift this trophy for a 3rd time in his career as a manager, so will make this competition his number 1 priority.
Chelsea to win Champions League: 5/1

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Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 20 September 2009

Arsene Wenger's Top 10 signings

With Thomas Vermaelen set to be another top signing by Arsene Wenger, following his 2 goals against Wigan yesterday and his general defensive reassurance he's brought to the Arsenal back 4 in their opening couple of game, here is my opinions on Arsene Wenger's Top 10 Arsenal signings over the years:

1.Thierry Henry
Juventus thought they'd done a good job after selling Thierry Henry for a loss of £500,000 when Arsene Wenger was willing to pay £10,000,000 in the summer of 1999 to reunite him with the pacey Frenchman he briefly played at Monaco in the early 90's. A flop on the left wing at Juventus, Wenger took a gamble on a player who hadn't quite lived up to his potential shown at Monaco. At Arsenal Henry transitioned into a striker and in no time became a regular goalscorer and Highbury hero. Henry scored 174 league goals in 8 seasons at Arsenal, ending as the Premier League top scorer on 4 occasions. A huge part of Arsenal's success during his time there, he helped them lift the Premier League trophy twice, FA Cup three times and reach the Champions League final for the first time in their history in 2006. His pace, skill and crisp finishing makes him one of Arsenal and the world's greatest ever players. Arsenal have not won a trophy since he left to join Barcelona in 2007.

2.Patrick Vieira
An unknown sigining from AC Milan (£3,500,000) in September 1996, Patrick Vieira's physical presence helped him to become an integral part of the Arsenal squad during his 9 year stay. Tough in the tackle, Vieira endlessly broke up attacks from the opposition and helped start attacks of their own. A key part of their midfield, Wenger has yet to find a suitable replacement for the World Cup and European Championships winner. Taking over the captaincy following Tony Adams' retirement, Vieira won the Premier League on three occasions and the FA Cup four times.

3.Robert Pires
After Marc Overmars was sold on to Barcelona for £25,000,000, Arsene Wenger spent £6,000,000 of that to replace him with Marseille winger Robert Pires. He didn't disappoint. Arsenal had landed a fantastic partnership on the wings with Freddie Ljungberg on the opposite side. His trickery, and exquisite passing ability helped Arsenal to much success in the new millennium. A two-time Premier League winner and three-time FA Cup winner, Pires wasn't popular with fans of other sides in the Premier League for his oft-simulation that came into the spotlight at the beginning of their unbeaten 2003/04 campaign in a game against Portsmouth where he made contact with Dejan Stefanovic and went down to earn a penalty that Arsenal scored their equaliser from. Regardless of that, you can't deny the talent Pires brought to the Premier League and will long live in the list of Arsenal legends.

4.Marc Overmars
Marc Overmars became of Arsene Wenger's revolution at Arsenal when he signed from Ajax in 1997 for £7,000,000. His pace and flair down the left wing made him one of Arsenal's best goal threats during his three year stay, scoring 25 league goals from the wing during that time. He was then sold on to Barcelona for £25,000,000 in the first summer of the new millennium. Overmars was already well-known before Wenger signed him after success at Ajax and a regular in the Dutch national team. A crucial part of their first Premier League title and double-winning 1997/98 season.

5.Cesc Fabregas
Part of the current creative Arsenal midfield, Cesc Fabregas became a regular of the Arsenal midfield at just aged 17. He soon became a star with his fantastic creativity in midfield despite Arsenal fans trying to compare him to the player he replaced – Patrick Vieira. A completely different player, despite not scoring too many, he is always involved in their goals. He has only won 1 FA Cup, this being his sixth season with the London side, and faces continual speculation linking him back to his youth team, Barcelona. A superb pickup by Wenger who would be guaranteed to make a huge profit for the Gunners should he move to Barcelona. He took over the Arsenal captaincy from William Gallas in November 2008.

6.Freddie Ljungberg
One of the handful of great wingers Arsene Wenger has brought in during his tenure at Arsenal. Freddie Ljungberg signed as an unknown from Swedish side Halmstads in 1998. He made one of the quickest hits on his debut by scoring as a substitute in a 3-0 win over rivals Manchester United. He scored in half of his games during the 2001/02 campaign where he picked up his first of two Premier League titles. He also scored in the FA Cup final that year to seal the double. He has 3 FA Cup winners medals and scored in two finals. He and Robert Pires were a delight on the wings for Arsenal at the start of the new millennium. He was sold on to West Ham in 2007 for the same price Arsenal paid for him 9 years before (£3,000,000) when his legs started to go.

7. Kolo Toure
Signed in 2002 for a nominal fee from a club in his home country Ivory Coast, Kolo Toure was originally a utility man, playing in midfield and at right back before Wenger made a master stroke by partnering him with Sol Campbell in the centre of the Arsenal defence. During his 7 years at Arsenal, Toure became an unknown to one of the best defenders in the world before moving to Manchester City for £16,000,000 this summer. Quick, powerful and an assured tackle, Toure was the better part of their often criticised defence in his final couple of seasons. He lifted the Premier League trophy once, and the FA Cup twice.

8.Jens Lehmann
Often criticised for his play acting and a few critical mistakes, Jens Lehmann arrived at Arsenal aged 33 replacing David Seaman in 2003. He made an immediate impact as a big part of their unbeaten title winning season in 2003/04. Inconsistencies the following season saw him dropped on a number of occasions but he got the starting job back after that and became the number 1 keeper for Germany in World Cup 2006. That came after his sending off early in Arsenal's Champions League final, despite playing outstanding in the run up to the final that included a run of 853 minutes without conceding a goal. Errors at the start of the 2007/08 season followed by an injury lead to him being dropped to the bench before moving to Stuttgart at the end of the season. Lehmann had his moments but was a great keeper for Arsenal during his 5 year stay.

9.Nicolas Anelka
Although only at Arsenal for 2 full seasons, he makes this top 10 list for the impact he made during his short spell as a teenager, and then being sold on for £23,000,000 to Real Madrid after being signed for £500,000. A part of Arsenal's double-winning season in 1998, Anelka's pace and finishing made him a constant threat to the opposition before moving to Madrid and making numerous other transfers throguhout his career that has seen him play for Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton and currently Chelsea in the Premier League.

10.Andrey Arshavin
Without being disrespectful to other players shortlisted to make the top 10, Andrey Arshavin makes it at number 10 for me for his immediate impact in his early days. Wenger was criticised, mainly by Manchester United fans for spending £15,000,000 on a 27 year old, who made his name during last summers European Championships. He made a good impact against Blackburn in one of his first games, and then shut critics up by scoring 4 goals in a 4-4 draw at Liverpool in April that assisted Manchester United to the title last season. His creativity, flair and early goalscoring record will help him to become one of Wenger's best ever signings.

Honourable mentions go to Emmanuel Petit and Sol Campbell who were close to making the list.

Wenger has also had his bad signings, many to name but a few that come to mind include Kaba Diawara, Igor Stepanovs, Francis Jeffers, Richard Wright and Pascal Cygan! You can add many more to that list, but Wenger has proven himself to be one of the best in the transfer market with the resources he has been given. One of my favourite Premier League managers, he's brought success, excitement and controversy with him, and bundles of talent to Arsenal.

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Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 13 September 2009

Emmanuel Adebayor must be banned

Following two ugly incidents involving Emmanuel Adebayor in Manchester City's 4-2 win over Arsenal yesterday, the FA will review his actions on Monday before they decide to take any punishment on the £25,000,000 striker.

Following a rash challenge from Robin van Persie in the second half, Emmanuel Adebayor intentionally scraped his studs down the side of the Arsenal player's face. The incident when unnoticed by referee Mark Clattenburg, which prevents any flaws in the rule book from intervening, and therefore the FA have full control of the punishment to hand to Mr Adebayor. This malicious football behaviour should not be accepted in the Premier League and the FA need to make a stand to help prevent any future occurrences.

Robin van Persie issued a statement on the Arsenal website that had this to say in relation to the incident, claiming Emmanuel Adebayor's actions to be "mindless and malicious" with "the intention of hurting an opponent". He went on to state "He [Adebayor] has shown a real lack of class today, to me and the fans" and that he has not received an apology.

Later in the game, Adebayor went on to score Manchester City's 3rd goal, making the scoreline 3-1 at the time and effectively killing off any chance of an Arsenal comeback despite their amount of possession in the second half.

Adebayor sprinted the length of the field to slide infront of the Arsenal fans in celebration. Passions run high on the football field, but this behaviour in inciting the crowd could come with a punishment.

Emmanuel Adebayor has showed what talent he does have as a footballer in the opening 4 games this season by scoring in each of them. He has worked much harder in those games under Mark Hughes than his latter days at Arsenal, and his run down the left flank in the second half that should have resulted in Shaun Wright-Phillips scoring is signs that he can become an elite striker in the Premier League. He always showed this potential at Arsenal, but his wastefulness and greed is what let himself down and to Arsenal fans turning their back on the Togolese striker.

Manchester City have maintained their 100% start to the season, although conceded their first 2 goals of the season. Both were difficult to defend, with quick and close-range passing, and a neat finish from Robin van Persie for the 1st, which shows how well City have been defending this season and how hard it is going to be for lower quality players to break them down this season. Their counter-attacking football lead to goals, and this was without the pace and flair of Robinho. They are a dangerous side although still aren't considered favourites to finish in the top 4 this season.

If Adebayor is to be suspended, Mark Hughes will be without his top scorer for their trip to rivals Manchester United next weekend which could prove costly.

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