Is Anthony Martial the next Thierry Henry he’s being touted as?

Considering the sudden silence of all those laughing at Manchester United on deadline day when they spent over £36 million on a teenager, Anthony Martial must of done pretty well… and he really has. With 4 goals in 5 games Martial is establishing himself as a fan favourite at Old Trafford, and with a lack of other proven forwards aside from Rooney Martial may be able to force himself into being a permanent name on the team sheet far sooner than expected. The boy has composure well beyond his years, taking his goals with a head cooler than the north pole and his dribbling skills such as those he showed with his goal against Liverpool would be hard for any defender to handle. I can see why he is being likened to a certain other frenchman with the same traits. After all Arsenal’s hero did not have nearly the same start as martial with Thierry not finding the net until his 9th game in an arsenal shirt. So could Anthony Martial be the real deal.

Sir Alex Ferguson himself stated that Martial can be anything he wants to be, a man rarely wrong in terms of scouting talent despite a long list of flops. It’s quite the endorsement coming from a manager who claimed to of just managed 4 world class players in his decades of management leaving out players like Jaap Stam and Ruud Van Nistelrooy to name a few. The talent is clearly there in Martial’s case, LVG believes it, Ferguson believes it, and he’s proved it with the start he has made.

The only thing thats left to decide is whether he can use it and really fulfil his potential to be like his predecessors.

But for Anthony Martial at the moment the sky really is the limit.

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Is Andre Ayew already the signing on the season?

New signing Ayew has impressed

New signing Ayew has impressed

By the looks of my fantasy league team Andre Ayew is one of the best in the league, and i’m very thankful I must say as the rest of my team has not done nearly as well. But I wont be the happiest to see how quickly he has adapted to the Premier league just ask Swansea fans. Due to what seems like a growing partnership between the Ghanaian international and Bafetimbi Gomis Swansea find themselves (at the time of writing) in 5th place, and with Gomis and Ayew scoring 3 & 4 respectively the players are some of the highest scoring in the Premier League.

Which begs the question why did no one pick up Ayew before? Given that Swansea a club which (with all due respect) have less allure than most in the Premier league got one of europe’s hottest properties on a free transfer. Ayew puts it down to a chat with Gary Monk, stating that he felt more comfortable moving to Wales than some of the other clubs pursuing him due to the chance of constant game time and being able to express himself, which he has in some way. So kudos to Huw Jenkins who managed to pull of the transfer who has established Swansea as a permanent Premier league side, it’s more than deserved.

In a season where new TV money is about to come in survival is imperative even more than usual, so how come there was not such a fight for the ex Marseille player? Teams like Newcastle and Aston Villa who have been searching for such players have monetary funds far superior to that of Swansea yet none went in whole heartedly. As such Swansea will in all likelihood come above the rest, and I would be amazed if the side containing not just Ayew and Gomis but the likes of Montero and Shelvey also did not make the top half.

Other signings have certainly done well it must be said. Such as Yohan Cabaye who has given Palace much needed creativity to match their pace on the wings and heralded a new era for the South london club, Pardew’s purchase of the midfielder was inspired. However, few have had the impact of Ayew, scoring two goals with his head despite his lack of height has shown Andre’s versatility and despite his traditional position on the wing is revelling in a place just behind the striker. His combination of power and pace, as well as a tenacity found in very few players today make for one of the success stories of the season so far. I hope for the sake of my fantasy team his form continues. It doesnt look like it will stop soon.

What happened to Javier Saviola?

Named as part of Pele’s FIFA 100 in 2004 (a list of the 125 greatest living footballers) Javier Saviola being just 22 at the time was the youngest on the list, he was destined for big things. At the time “El conejo” had scored 60 goals in 144 appearances for Barcelona, an impressive return when considering he was part of a struggling Barcelona side as a second striker, and behind a club legend in Patrick Kluivert. Move on ten years and things didn’t really go to plan, but it wasn’t the sudden decline we see with many talented footballers, it was altogether a more sad affair with a player who never fully achieved what perhaps he could have. Instead Saviola was a player who showed his outstanding talent for the biggest clubs on the planet yet never quite got the chances he should.

It began at River Plate where a youthful Javier began his career making his full debut for Los Millonarios at the age of just 16. He went on to score 45 goals for the club by the time he was 19 at which point Barca came calling. £15 million later and the young Argentinian was at the Nou camp, which is when his reputation took off as one of the most promising players of his generation. Despite Barcelona going through a relatively tough patch during his early spell as a starter, coming 4th, 6th and then 2nd in his three seasons at the Nou camp, though Saviola still shined while the rebuild began in Catalunia.

BUT, in 2003 Frank Rijkaard came to bring Barca back to the top, a mission he did not see long time partners Saviola and Kluivert to be a part of. As a result Kluivert was sold and Saviola loaned out. Though not just once but twice, first to Monaco where he became a regular scoring 11 goals in Ligue 1, and secondly back to La Liga with Sevilla where he replaced Julio Baptista, where in the process he won the UEFA cup. However despite his efforts these performances could not gain him a place in the Barcelona team. Having just won the Champions league and La Liga Samuel Eto’o and co were not going to be replaced easily. As it were Saviola was recalled for the 2006-07 season due to injuries and yet again impressed scoring 10 goals in just 24 appearances, of which only 5 were starts.

Though yet again with the coming of Thierry Henry from Arsenal, Saviola found himself surplus to requirements. It was here Saviola left to join arch rivals Real Madrid. Though this was a move to a very prestigious club where he doubtless had a great time playing with the best players in the world and making a lot of money, he sadly once again did not feature that much for the first team, instead being limited to substitute appearances and cup games. With his return being just 5 goals in 28 appearances between 2007 and 2009. Where yet again players like Raul, Van Nistelrooy, Robben and Sneijder were all ahead in the pecking order. The period can in some ways be seen as the end of Saviola being a worldwide name who was deemed world class.

After the arrival of another in Klass Jan Huntelaar, 2009 saw Saviola leave for what proved to be his most prolific spell in Benfica in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. For just 5 million euros Benfica got a pacey striker desperate to prove himself and he did in some fashion, scoring 39 goals in three seasons with the club. Saviola yet again became a regular, winning both the league and Taça da Liga in his first season, during his time at Benfica Javier re-established himself as a striker to be reckoned with, fitting into a role out wide, which is when La Liga once again came calling in the form of Malaga. Through their new found monetary power Malaga signed many experienced players and came 6th. A successful year passed before another move, this time Olympiacos where he won the Domestic title as well as making a long awaited return to the champions league. Another year and its Verona who come calling, though this time its a less successful spell, and after leaving this summer, he is back at River Plate.

However the Verona season sticks out for one reason, and that is that for the first time in his career Saviola wasn’t successful. Despite playing for just one year at 5 different clubs, he always scored, which is why the case of Saviola is so peculiar. He has managed to produce depite the upheaval of moving every year and without fail. So why isn’t Javier Saviola still deemed to be one of the best?

He has been incredibly unlucky, at almost all the clubs Saviola has graced he has been behind a great striker or been usurped by one. A player who fits behind a spearhead always tends to have talented competition, but Saviola has had rougher than most. From Kluivert at Barcelona, Nistelrooy at Madrid, to even the likes of Shabani Nonda at Monaco and Kanoute at Sevilla lesser players but at the times better options for their respective clubs. Javier was never fully comfortable as a club’s prime attacking threat and as such never quite reached what maybe he could have. Which includes his exploits for the Argentinian national side, where he was part of a generation that included Batistuta and Crespo in his youth, to Tevez and Messi in his prime. There was just never space.

“El Conejo” is back where he began now at River Plate which maybe is for the best, but there is no doubt he has left a legacy of admirers back in Europe who will think about what could have been. However for those who argue that he never made it because he wasn’t good enough, just take a look at this and maybe watching some clips of  young Saviola will change your mind.

Who’s going down?

With the Premier league season now well and truly underway, lets see who is going to beat the drop, and more importantly who isn’t.

NEWCASTLE

Steve McClaren

Another season and yet more disappointment on the Toon. Despite a new manager in Steve McClaren, and big money signings in Wijnaldum and Mitrovic the Gordie faithful are yet to see much to be positive about. Coming off of a poor pre season, Newcastle had a disappointing loss to Swansea and a draw against a struggling Southampton side and nothing much to be happy about, particularly the terrible performance of Daryl Janmaat.

However, there have only been three games so far, one of which Wijnaldum scored in, and given the pedigree of those two signings have from playing in Europe I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just a matter of settling in. At least the investment is being made in Newcastle which isn’t something that’s been said of the Ashley era before this summer. If those two players play as well as they did at their previous clubs they’ll stay up.

Verdict – Will Survive, just need to settle down

ASTON VILLA

villapark4

Aston Villa are another side similar to Newcastle who probably shouldn’t be battling for their safety again, but no matter how optimistic you are you simply cannot sell your spine and be certain it will turn out fine. The sales of Ron Vlaar, Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke have left gaping holes in the Villa squad. To be fair to Tim Sherwood, the Villains have bought wisely and Micah Richards is in my mind an improvement anyway, the likes of Rudy Gestede and Jordan Veretout are also good players for sure, but Benteke and Delph quality… i’m not convinced.  I think they’ll be fine, and they have started well with a win against Bournemouth. However, it was a much needed overhaul this summer in the midlands and ideally it should go well.

Verdict – Should Survive unless signings turn bad.

WEST BROM

Gnabry west brom

Villa’s rivals the Baggies will also be hoping this season won’t be their last in the top flight. Under the stewardship of Tony Pulis, West Brom have come a long way but that’s not to say they are in the clear. Though they were relatively safe last year their investment has been poor and even though players like James Chester and James McClean are quite good, signing relegated players has never worked before and it’s not going to work this time either. There is a reason the same players get relegated again and again and you can’t get out of trouble by buying a fallen club’s stars. They may not go down, but I think even Tony Pulis may struggle to keep them up if form goes against them.

Verdict – Pulis will probably get them through it, but a battle is likely.

NORWICH

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Traditionally the team that comes up through the Play-offs survives, maybe out of some form of carry over momentum. However, with Norwich it may be a struggle. Alex Neil is an inexperienced manager which is usually a bad sign in the Premier league, and I have a feeling he will be lucky to still be the manager at the end of the season, as we see with so many talented managers who fall by the wayside.

However, credit must go to the canaries that they have probably the best promoted midfield i’ve seen. Bradley Johnson and Alex Tettey are as dynamic as any pair, and flair players like Redmond and Hoolahan are rare in lower table teams. If the rest of their team can keep up with their middle, they could just about survive.

Verdict – Survive by the skin of their teeth

LEICESTER

Vardy

Many clubs have a stormer of a first season, outperform expectations, invest a lot of money and get overconfident, then find themselves back in the championship next season. Leicester are not this team. Having bought wisely and bringing in a European quality manager to cap it all off, Leicester should beat the drop and once again and establish themselves as a long term premier league side. Judging by the early results their survival shouldn’t be a problem.

Verdict – Survive and probably then some

BOURNEMOUTH

Bournemouth

The fairytale of last season, Bournemouth will have the smallest stadium in the league by some margin, seating just 12,000. They play great football and i’m sure they will give it a go which will be great to see, they’ve also got some steel and premier league experience in the likes of Artur Boruc and Sylvain Distin. Though sadly not all great stories end well, similar to Blackpool i’m sure we will see a lot of attacking football and drive, and I hope this works out, but it may be a step too far for the club that nearly dropped from league two just 6 years ago.

Verdict – Down, but will give it a good go.

SUNDERLAND 

Sunderland

God knows why, but Dick Advocaat has stayed at the Stadium of light for another season, and taking results into account so far he is probably regretting it. Even though Jeremain Lens is a talented player from Dynamo Kiev others like Younes Kaboul and Coates are errors. Both struggled at their former clubs and have struggled at lower clubs before. It seems like forever that Sunderland have been in relegation scraps and you can’t ride your luck forever, I think this may be it for the Black Cats.

Verdict – Down, probably by april.

WATFORD

Watford's Troy Deeney scores the winning goal during the npower Football League Championship match at Vicarage Road.

A team who by the looks of it are going to have a real go this year with Qique Sanchez Flores at the helm. After going all out in a draw at Goodison Park the Hornets registered 16 shots on goal against West Brom. Could be a worrying sign that they couldn’t convert but it’s admirable that they gave what they got. I hope they stay up and with an experienced manager they stand a chance, however, it could be difficult if they struggle to score as much as on the weekend.

Verdict – Will be entertaining, but will go down if strikers can’t convert.

(ROUGH AND UNDOUBTEDLY INCORRECT PREDICTION)

Newcastle – 13th

Leicester – 14th

Aston Villa – 15th

West Brom – 16th

Norwich – 17th

Watford – 18th

Bournemouth – 19th

Sunderland – 20th

Is Slaven Bilic the right choice for West Ham

Slaven Bilic

I have to say I didn’t quite understand the West Ham managerial saga after Sam Allardyce’s departure. I get West ham are moving to the Olympic stadium, they have a big following in East London and they are a settled Premier League club, but when they were approaching Carlo Ancelotti I mean COME ON! I’m a big fan of ambition and of course aim high and you’ll do better but that is just delusional.

Over the summer David Gold stated that they only wanted a manager of “the highest calibre” and someone who “wasn’t a risk”. Instead, they got Slaven Bilic, this isn’t intended to be a hate piece against the Hammers but they were never going to get Rafa Benitez either, I mean yet again what were they thinking. West Ham are a club that got into the Europa league via fair play regulations, they are closer to a relegation battle than 4th place so they were never going to get a champions league quality manager. As much as the Olympic Stadium is an attraction it’s not like they are Barcelona, and of the “West Ham way”… I am a football fan from London since birth and don’t know what it is, so I don’t think anyone does.

As a result West ham got the best they could in Slaven Bilic, maybe Moyes would have been a good choice but he was already comfortable in Spain. Ironically, in Bilic they have got exactly what they wanted to avoid, a risk. When David gold said (via football365) we want a manager who would have been successful in one of the major leagues in the world, he probably didn’t mean Turkey with Besiktas. He meant the Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga, not the manager of a team that came 3rd in both seasons that he was in charge in the Turkish Süper Lig. Slaven Bilic is no champions league manager.

West ham bilic

However, that’s not to say he’s not the right choice, he’s just not the one Gold and Sullivan wanted. He has a wealth of experience ranging from the Russian league with Lokomotiv Moscow, to a successful spell with Croatia. He also used to play in the Premier League which helps, with both Everton and conveniently West Ham. As a result, West Ham have a young, fairly up and coming manager who knows the club… Perfect no? Well, given West ham’s awful European campaign probably not.

HOWEVER, It’s just the beginning and he has always done well wherever he has gone, though not necessarily trophy winning, he is easily a manager capable of managing West Ham’s expectations. Also, it must help that the guy is as passionate as most get, something which is much appreciated in East London.

Why Arsenal and Wenger need Benzema

Why Arsenal & Wenger need Benzema so badly

Olivier Giroud has been at Arsenal for a total of 3 years. In the process his goal return has increased year on year, showing that from a return of 19 in 2012-13, Giroud fired home 23 goals in 2013-14, and 19 last season – despite being blighted with niggling injuries. The pattern shows the clear upward trajectory of Olivier settling, and beginning to make a serious return on what now seems like a steal at around £10 million… What’s to say this wont be the year he’ll get 25?

When you hear someone say “We need a striker who will get 20+ goals a season”, tell them that. After all, Giroud has done great, when we were struggling to get 4th in 2013, he pulled through. When we went on a run and held onto 1st for half the season in 2014 he was the guy bull dozing the small teams week in week out making sure we stayed on course. He is also just 28, and potentially this could be his best season yet. So the guy deserves respect. I mean look at this.

HOWEVER…

Arsenal need more, and as much as I am a fan of Giroud, I am fully aware of his flaws. Aside from his dominance in the air and his strong link up play, there is little that qualifies Olivier Giroud as the striker Arsenal need. Indeed, against the big teams Olivier comes up painfully short, with the Frenchman scoring just 4 times against the top four in his time with the Gunners. That’s an extremely poor return, and part of the reason Arsenal have dropped points against tough opposition. Then when you take into account the potential replacements in Danny Welbeck and Joel Campbell, you can see why the fans are clamouring for a new face.

Bringing in Benzema would solve this issue and then some. Not only can he lead from the front on his own with his 6.2″ frame, but he is also the complete striker. This is something Giroud cant claim to be, and as much as Giroud’s a good player, he wont win us the league. Just like Thierry Henry says, he’s not world class. Benzema is however, as he plays with the best players in the world week in week out, has a proven goal scoring record, and can score against the very best unlike Giroud.

Though that seems to be a part of the problem, even though Arsenal now seem to be able to purchase top talent like Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, they may struggle with a player who is truly valued as a star at a big club. After all, there is reasoning behind Kaka’s claim that Arsenal will struggle to lure him to the capital. Along with the stumbling block of the price, Real Madrid are unlikely to release a player who has been involved in 51 goals over the past two seasons – only beaten by Messi and Ronaldo.

However, Arsenal fans should not fret. After all, Lord Harris stated that Arsene Wenger could buy anyone apart from Messi or Ronaldo, so why not go for Benzema? It could already be on the cards, with ESPN reporter and Real Madrid fan Jeinny Lizarazo claiming the deal is already done. If this is the case I would be absolutely delighted. After all, any player who can score 87 goals in 5 years all while being in and out of the team, and facing endless public scrutiny is welcome at the Emirates in my book for any price. We all know how well a player can blossom when he has the weight of scrutiny lifted off his shoulders when leaving Spain, just look at Sanchez. So here’s to hoping Karim will soon have a cannon on his chest.

And for the few of you who are not convinced, just watch him embarrass one of the greatest defenders of all time. Enjoy.

What to do with Joel Campbell

What do we do with Joel Campbell?

So it’s been a little over a year since the World Cup in Brazil. A lot has changed, we have a new government, Chelsea are the new champions, Arsenal defended the FA Cup, however Joel Campbell’s situation remains the same. After a wonder goal against Manchester United while on loan at Olympiakos, and a stellar performance for Costa Rica at the World Cup Joel seemed to have the World at his feet, including what we all presumed would be a chance with the first team in North London. Arsene Wenger however seemed to think otherwise.

Skip to August 2015 and after 10 poor appearances in an Arsenal shirt without a single goal (via Bleacher report) Campbell is being courted by clubs across Europe. Something which upsets me given a self confessed soft spot I have for the Costa Rican, particularly when one takes into account that Yaya Sanogo got practically as much game time as the pacey forward before his loan to Crystal Palace. This is a guy who (according to The Star) Ronald De Boer described as ‘having no qualities’, and who I am quite frankly inclined to agree with. It frustrates me even more because of the fact I wouldn’t even blame him for leaving. The guy had a stormer on the world stage helping a small Caribbean nation reach the quarter finals of the World cup, to come back to a club where he spends little time even on the bench.

Campbell enjoyed great success at the World Cup in Brazil but struggled on his return to Arsenal.
Campbell enjoyed great success at the World Cup in Brazil but struggled on his return to Arsenal.

Naturally many fans will say that’s fine, and to an extent it is. Since we seem to use Joel predominantly out wide as a winger, he is unfortunately a part of the most saturated position at Arsenal. Competing with the likes of Alexis, Walcott, Oxlade Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck every week, not to mention the likes of Ramsey and Ozil who can also play there, he rarely gets a game. These are players who will invariably play ahead of him and with good reason, but I just cant help but feel it’s a waste. We have been calling out for seasons for a striker and this guy is good. Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that Joel Campbell is a Benzema type of striker who is what Arsenal need, but as a replacement or backup, sure he is. He’s far better than Yaya Sanogo and he has just as much talent as Welbeck that’s for sure. So why not give him a shot?

Sadly for me Joel seems like he could be headed for the exit door with Palermo and others interested (via Express). Though I would love to know if I’m the only Arsenal fan who’d love to see him stay and get another chance, I can’t see us getting much for him realistically and would be intrigued to see him in an explosive substitute role. I take the point that we have other players who could do this, but I feel like we are just churning through good strikers like Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell, without ever truly seeing them play in their real position. Here’s to hoping that he gets a chance to show us all how good he can be up top, at the Emirates or otherwise.