Leicester target yet more talent

Much has been made of Leicester’s recruitment policy, and they are at it again targeting the next big thing. This time in the form of Genk defender Wilfred Ndidi.

The 6’2 Nigerian has ben making waves in the Jupiler League and has been heralded as a future star by the Belgian media. Known for his versatility and ability to play in defence as well as midfield, the 19 year old has garnered something of a reputation for the spectacular, displaying a passing range and shooting ability that defies his status as a centre back, with many discussing the progress of Yaya Toure as similar to that of the Nigerian prodigy.

The youngster had such a good spell last campaign, that he was even selected for the 35 man Nigerian Olympic Squad. As well as making 2 caps for the senior side.

Which makes it little surprise that Leicester are on the hunt for his services. Despite the signing of Daniel Amartey, Leicester fans are disappointed with the loss of defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante, with the club now languishing in 14th, with much of the same squad as last year.

Perhaps Ndidi could solve these issues, but if Leicester want to find out the Daily Mirror report that it would take at least £16 Million to take the nigerian to the midlands.

From the video above however, it’s worth a go.

 

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Why Tyson Fury’s victory is one of the best things to happen to boxing.

Tyson Fury is a dick… there is no doubt about this. The guy insults others personally, threatens journalists with violence like he did to Oliver Holt, and thinks being gay is as bad as being a paedophile. In fact there is a serious argument that someone who thinks abortion and being homosexual are the devil’s work, shouldn’t be given the platform of the Heavyweight title to spout his questionable views. As a role model he is as bad as they come.

But despite all of this, he has just revived the dead corpse which is the Heavyweight boxing division. Since Lennox Lewis hung up his gloves it’s been dull, so dull that when I was growing up attempting to take an interest I gave up, seeing no excitement aside from in the lighter divisions.

AP GERMANY BOXING S BOX DEU

The Klitschko brothers to be fair to them have been the standard bearers, have and done so with class. But they were killing the division, because the truth is they are not why people watch boxing. The mechanical efficiency is what certain hardcore fans love, the professionalism and the tactics, but the mass majority of normal Boxing fans who have stopped watching the sport want hard hitting adrenaline filled slugfests.

Which is why to be honest its good time Wladimir took a step down, because Fury isn’t nearly as good and fights from now on may not be such one sided affairs.

All the best fighters have a back story and many are dreadful people, but thats why people want to see them fight. Its the characters who make it what it is

One thing you can never challenge Fury on is his character.

 

 

 

 

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.

Will Abou Diaby succeed in Marseille?

With Abou’s time at Arsenal at an end, and the Ligue 1 underway, the injury prone midfielder starts his new adventure with Marseille in an attempt to resurrect his career. Having turned down an approach from West Brom, Diaby has gone home in his own words due to the medical help on offer from the French club. As well as what is undoubtedly an attempt to get back into the French national side, having made 16 appearances for Les Bleus in the past and being a starter throughout their 2010 World cup campaign. Abou will be desperate to get back to his best, but as we all now from the Emirates it’s not so simple. So can he beat his injury problems and be the player we all knew he could have been?

The evidence says otherwise. Vassiriki Abou Diaby has had 42 injuries during his 9 year stint with Arsenal, which is the equivalent of one every 79 days. In fact the Daily Mail calculates that he missed 222 weeks out injured. It’s the sad case of a guy who was courted by the best clubs in the world as a youngster, but after all the investment it turns out that just one horror challenge in 2006 could ruin a whole decade’s opportunity. Aside from the 2009-10 season and a brief couple of stints here and there, Abou’s body never fully allowed him a stint in the side, and the Gunners will never know what could have been.

A challenge from Dan Smith in 2006 set the tone for a sad spell on the sidelines.

A challenge from Dan Smith in 2006 set the tone for a sad spell on the sidelines.

However there are positives for Marseille and the towering midfielder. If he can indeed find some fitness, he still has time to make quite the career for himself. With deft feet and a physical presence which drew comparisons to Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira, Abou Diaby could still be the heart of a Marseille side trying to get back to where they belong in the Champions League. If he can succeed he even stands a chance of getting back into the national fold, and who knows may even be a dark horse for the Euro 2016 squad! After all few can do this…

If his injuries persist then of course it may be a sad end, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see retirement come calling. However if he gets lucky and leaves his troubles behind him, who knows Arsenal may even regret letting him go.

I think i speak for all fans though when i say Good luck Abou, and thanks for the memories.

Is there such a thing as the footballing gene? The best brothers in World football.

Parents across the globe ferry their children to games to improve their talents on the ball, in the hope that one day they can fulfil the ultimate dream of becoming a top footballer. Which begs the question of why sometimes two make it from one family. A matter of parenting, or something more genetic.

Below is a list of the top brothers to both make it in the world of football.

1. Phil & Gary Neville

The pair have 34 medals between them

The pair have 34 medals between them.

The pair came through the famous class of 92 and never looked back since with both going on to be legends for their clubs, Gary in Manchester and Phil Later on at Everton. Both now established pundits, Phil and Gary are sure to keep going for years to come in the world of football, with Phil moving to La Liga as assistant manager in Valencia.

2. Kolo & Yaya Toure

Toure brothers

Move across Manchester and there is another pair of brothers who have established themselves independently of each other. Both started off with trials in North London with Arsenal, as it turned out kolo got the contract. With Kolo taking the Arsenal route, Yaya had to find another route, finding his way through eastern Europe before heading to Barcelona. Very different players both were reunited at Man City under the new regime and havent looked back since. Kolo moved on, but Yaya despite rumours reportedly wishes to see out his career at the Ethihad.

3. Jerome and Kevin Boateng

The Boateng brothers chose to play for different countries.

The Boateng brothers chose to play for different countries

Jerome and Kevin grew up together in Berlin. Later though Kevin went on to play for Ghana his familial home, as a pose to Germany as with Jerome. As such they are practically the only siblings to play against each other internationally, both now playing in the Bundesliga. Particularly Jerome, being the stalwart at the back for Bayern during they’re successful period since 2011.

4. Fabio & Rafael Da Silva

The identical twins have gone separate ways

The identical twins have gone separate ways

Extremely peculiar given both are full backs at Man Utd like the Nevilles, sadly it hasn’t gone quite the same direction. Though Rafael is still at Old Trafford he no longer features as much as he did under Ferguson. Even worse for Fabio he now turns out for Cardiff in the Championship. Both have Brazil caps, but perhaps the hype was fuelled by being in a side ran by the most successful manager of all time.

5. Frank & Ronald De Boer

The De Boers travelled the footballing world together.

The De Boers travelled the footballing world together.

The twins both started out at Ajax and stuck with each other for pretty much their whole careers. Both having spells at Barcelona, Rangers, Al-Rayyan and Al-Shamal, altogether the two brothers spent just 5 years apart, and both now are part of the management at Ajax. Frank in particular has seen much success in managing Ajax, winning the Eredivisie 4 times straight in the process and the twins have left an impression everywhere they have gone. Combined the De Boer twins won over 170 caps for the Netherlands.

So what do you reckon is there such a thing as the footballing gene? Read More

With Falcao getting another chance to prove himself at Chelsea. How have other Columbians fared?

Surprisingly, only 10 Columbians have played in the Premier league. Something which shocks me given the strength of Columbia as a footballing nation and that the Barclays Premier league draws in talent from across the globe. So i’ve tracked them down, and the results have been decidedly varied.

THE SUCCESS STORIES

Hugo Rodallega

Rodallega was a favourite at Wigan.

Rodallega was a favourite at Wigan.

Hugo Rodallega joined Dave Whelan’s Wigan when they were struggling in 2008, he then helped give them 5 more years of Premier League football which they probably shouldn’t have ever had. Being involved in one relegation scrap after another Wigan stayed up thanks in large part to Rodallega’s strange knack of scoring against fellow strugglers. Scoring the most important one of which against Stoke on the last day of the 2010-11 season to secure Wigan’s safety. Often played out wide a return of 24 premier league goals was pretty decent for a guy playing in a poor team. He went down with fulham but continues to score in the championship, keeping them from dropping down to league one and giving the club a chance to fight again next year to get back to the big time.

Verdict – Success

Tino Asprilla

Asprilla was an incredibly popular player in the late 90's.

Asprilla was an incredibly popular player in the late 90’s.

Probably the most successful Columbian to play in the Premier league, Faustino Asprilla was named the 6th best player in the world by FIFA in his prime. Bought from Parma, Asprilla became a key part of the successful Newcastle side that challenged for the Premier League under Kevin Keegan. A cult hero on tyneside, he is remembered for his pace and skill along with a hat trick against Barcelona which saw his status as a Newcastle great written into the history books. Often remembered for his playboy antics, Asprilla will always be remembered by the Toon and though it was a short spell, leaving in 1998, he is remembered well.

Verdict – Success

Carlos Sanchez

The tough defensive midfielder joined at the start of last season and hasn’t looked back since. After becoming a core member of the Aston Villa Side that reached the FA cup final, Sanchez has proved himself a tough tackler assisting Villa’s terrible defensive issues. Though the team needs tweaking Carlos is likely to remain a part of the Villa side Tim Sherwood is building. Seemingly comfortable in the UK, Carlos can surely only go on from strength to strength.

Carlos Sanchez

Verdict – Success

Hamilton Ricard

The crazy columbian has been involved in controversy throughout his career. Arguably one of the most cosmopolitan journeymen in the game, Ricard played for over 10 clubs in 10 separat countries, including most notably middlesborough between 1998 and 2002, where he finished as Boro’s top scorer twice. A player with strong aerial presence and a powerful shot, Ricard won over the fans before leaving when Steve McLaren took over the reigns on Teesside. Since Ricard has traveled all of the world playing in countries as wide as Bulgaria to China. In 2005 he was banned for twelve months for attacking a referee, but Middlesborough still remembers him well.

Ricard is remembered well on Teesside.

Ricard is remembered well on Teesside.

Verdict – Success

Juan Pablo Angel

Angel was Aston Villa's spearhead for years.

Angel was Aston Villa’s spearhead for years.

Another Villain on the list, Juan Pablo Angel was bought into Villa Park for £9 million as a club record signing and did not disappoint. Scoring over 60 goals for the club Angel headed up the midland side for the duration of the early 00’s and is remembered for scoring over 20 goals in the 2003/04 season. Though his form didn’t last, he is known as one of the better players in Aston Villa’s premier league history. He later went to the MLS and retired after a lengthy career at the ripe old age of 39 last year.

Verdict – Success

David Ospina

A player close to my heart, and a firm fan favourite at Arsenal with one of the more inventive chants in the premier league, David Ospina established himself last year as Arsenal’s No 1 in stellar fashion. Displacing Wojciech Sczcesny in the process, the columbian stopper ended up having the highest clean sheet percentage in the premier league. Even though it seems his time may have come to an end with Petr Cech’s arrival from Chelsea, he did an outstanding job for the Gunners and will doubtless have many suitors if he does indeed decide to move on.

Ospina

THE FLOPS

Radamel Falcao

The Columbian may get another chance at Chelsea

The Columbian may get another chance at Chelsea

In 2012 Falcao was the hottest property in Europe, having scored 52 goals in 68 games for Atletico Madrid and tormented La Liga all year he was seen as arguably the deadliest striker around. Fast forward to now and one ACL injury later Monaco are trying to offload him to quite literally everyone. Though the talent is obviously there, given his meagre return of 4 goals in 26 appearances he has been deemed by most to be a flop in Manchester. Whether it was the tactics or just the fact injury and age are taking their toll his stint at Old Trafford probably didn’t go as he would have hoped. Hopefully he’ll get another chance at Chelsea to prove to everyone he’s still got it.

Juan Cuadrado

Cuadrado has found chances at chelsea limited

Juan Cuadrado joined Chelsea in a deal which could reach as high as £26 million. That was back in January, but since then he has only made 12 league appearances for Chelsea. A star at Fiorentina, big things were expected of the winger but maybe its just a matter of him needing a transition period. One things for sure is that given Mohamed Salah’s form going the other way to Serie A, patience with Cuadrado may soon run out.

Verdict – Flop

Pablo Armero

Armero's stint at Upton Park didn't go to plan

Armero’s stint at Upton Park didn’t go to plan

Pablo Armero joined West Ham for a 6 month loan in 2014. A Columbian international with over 60 caps who had played for Udinese and Napoli in Serie A, he was expected to do well. However after playing just 5 games and conceding a penalty against Crystal Palace he was openly criticised by Sam Allardyce and was dropped. He went back to Italy and played for Columbia in the world cup reaching the Quarter finals. Clearly a good player maybe England just wasn’t for him.

Verdict – Flop

Jhon Viáfara 

The less said about Viáfara the better. Signed after some brilliant performances in the 2004 Copa libertadores for £2.2 million by Portsmouth, the defensive midfielder only lasted 6 months before being loaned to Real Sociedad. After which he was sold to local rivals southampton where to be fair to him he became a regular in the championship. After leaving he went back to south America, but he never achieved the potential he showed scoring in the 2004 Libertadores final against Boca Juniors, and is hardly even remembered by the Pompey faithful.

Verdict – Flop

Will Jack Wilshere ever come good?

With all the recent rumours about Manchester City’s interest in the 23 year old midfielder, i have found myself in the rather strange position of not really caring. Traditionally a massive supporter of Jack i’m now not sure on whether i’d keep him. Wilshere has been under massive criticism for a number of years, with many supporting Paul Scholes belief that he hasn’t improved since he put in that man of the match performance against Barcelona in 2011. In truth I hate to say it but he’s probably right. Jack has been seriously hampered with injuries but ultimately he’s a midfielder who is given quite a lot of attacking freedom and has scored just 6 goals in over 100 arsenal appearances. So I am left wondering whether we should really be giving a new bumper contract to a player who has serious injury problems, and a guy who is not always a starter, rather than cashing in now.

Many doubt Wilshere has shown any progress since he first broke into the side.

Many doubt Wilshere has shown any progress since he first broke into the side.

Anyone who watches Jack week in week out (when he isn’t injured) will understand that he comes with a certain level of baggage. Jack has always suffered with temperament and his disciplinary record is fairly poor, he argues with referees and often lets opposition players wind him up to his own disadvantage. He is also a very combative and competitive player, often going in for challenges most would not, as much as this can be seen as passion it can also lead to injuries and it has. These problems can be seen in many players and often written off as maturity issues but good players can change like Wayne Rooney has shown, going on to be a shining example as captain of Manchester United. There is additionally the problem of whether he is worth the hype, he did incredibly well as a young boy and had the clubs hopes put on his shoulders at a young age, but he hasn’t really delivered. He has big holes in his game around his positioning and he leaves gaps when he goes on marauding runs, often to get tackled and give the opposition the opportunity to counter, the off field troubles such as smoking don’t even come into it in my mind. These are all more significant problems that make me wonder why Arsenal are so averse to at least entertain interest from wealthy sides who would pay big money for the playmaker.

Wilshere has always had trouble keeping his cool.

Wilshere has always had trouble keeping his cool.

However i then remember how tough fans are on Jack. This is a guy that was touted as the next big prodigy who would replace Fabregas, he was even on the cover of Fifa 12. It was seen as a given that he would be a future Arsenal captain and all that pressure has definitely taken its toll. I feel that people measure him against the best, but just because he isn’t world class doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable. He performs a great box to box role for Arsenal and is part of why they have such a great depth in midfield, he doesn’t have to be the star. People knock his competitive edge but its damn entertaining, few players have the capacity to perform such mazy runs and to unlock a defence like Wilshere can, just think about that goal against Norwich.

He’s also one hell of a tackler, in fact I’d say the only issue is he was born too late, with many of his tackles being too tough for the modern game. He can tackle just as well as any defensive midfielder including Coquelin, and thats the key I feel to him unlocking his potential. Jack is a good all rounder, he can do everything these days, which isn’t something you could have said about him a few years ago. Just think of those long shots he pulled off against Slovenia and that drive against West Brom. His role in England’s squad as a deep lying playmaker is proof he can do it. I know he was ‘destined to be a number 10’ but thats a dream. There are far better number 10’s at arsenal and all the big clubs, but there are few better all round midfielders. If Jack can learn to position himself, use some discipline he could be a perfect midfielder. Though this completely depends on whether Wenger uses him in the deeper role he needs to thrive. This is how he can come good, and coming from deep is the only way he can keep doing things like this anyway.

He’ll never be the future Paul Gascoigne he was meant to be, but he can sure be a great something else.

How long left for the Premier League?

The Premier league has been at the top for a while lets be honest. We are told every match by Sky that this is “the best season yet” in “the greatest league on earth” and do you know what, I really think they’ve convinced nearly everyone that this is a fact without question. It’s the most fast paced, it has the best players, it’s only going to get bigger. Well, as much as it probably is the most fast paced, these other claims floated about are most definitely false, and I’m afraid the bubble might soon burst.

The Premier league was built in 1992 on the reasoning that the clubs of England were giants, and the product they had to sell was worth a huge amount more than what they were getting. For too long Serie A had always been the most attractive league, yet the attendances in England were always humungous. Driven by businessmen like David Dein and Alan Sugar, the league was founded in 1992 and the original Sky agreement of £304 million over five seasons flooded the league with money. Leaving even “smaller”clubs were with money to spend. This saw the quickest influx of talent to a league probably ever seen with players from all over the world suddenly being attracted by the huge wages on offer. It seemed every club was getting their own exotic players from far and wide bringing in ever larger crowds. Just look at Juninho at Middlesborough. This was a match made in heaven and the deals with Sky have been (depending on your perspectives) incredibly beneficial. Getting to the point where now entry to the premier league from the championship is worth £120 million.

Juninho went to Middlesborough ahead of Real Madrid and AC Milan.

Juninho chose Middlesborough ahead of Real Madrid and AC Milan due to the attraction of the league.

This is what has fuelled the BPL’s rise to being ‘the best league in the world’ and to be fair there is a good lot to shout about. England always produces passionate large crowds which come through the gates week in week out. There is also the fact that England has the oldest and largest football tradition possessing 92 professional clubs, more than anywhere else in the world. Conveniently for sky the whole nation lives and breathes football, everyone has a team, half the country watches. There is also the fast paced Gung-ho approach which english players seem so eager to embrace, unlike in Italy where traditionally players learn to defend and be astute tactically. Also, most significantly for the attraction of the Premier league is the players that are bought for astronomical prices. A league that is full of talent is surely the greatest around right.

But i think people are too quick to just gobble it all up, I mean in reality are the best players really in the Premier league? The Ballon D’or shortlists are only ever made up of La Liga and Bundesliga Players in recent years. Ronaldo and Messi, the world’s two best players play in Spain, the likes of Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben, and Franck Ribery all play for Bayern Munich. These players are rarely touted as coming to the Premier league. Whereas 10 years ago the Premier league was the only place to be, possessing the best talent like Fernando Torres, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo, players now leave for bigger clubs when they win an award or two. It has become the common path for Players of the year to take the short flight to Madrid or Barcelona. Just look at the likes of Ronaldo, Henry, Michael Owen, Fabregas and most recently Bale who have all gone to play in the Clasico and have a chance at winning the Champions league every year. The reality is the standard has dropped, the big clubs in England now buy players who are on the fringes at the worlds biggest clubs and sell them off as world beaters, but they don’t go for the very best out there. Neymar was never coming to the Premier league and I doubt Pogba will either. In recent years, Arsenal have bought Sanchez and first team/sub player at Barcelona, and Mesut Ozil a sub form Real Madrid. Even Angel Di Maria at Real Madrid wasn’t always in the Madrid team. These are great players but they aren’t the very very best, and I think this is the biggest sign that things are changing. In 2005 Patrick Viera rejected the chance to leave for Real Madrid as he didn’t believe they were necessarily a ‘step up’. However, fast forward to now and everyone wants to be playing at the Nou Camp and Bernabeu. This is why I worry, and wonder how long can the BPL honestly claim to be the best.

Gareth Bale was drawn to Real Madrid over Manchester United

Gareth Bale was drawn to Real Madrid over top premier league teams in 2013.

There is also the fact that the big English clubs never do well in Europe anymore. Between 2005 and 2012 English clubs were involved in 7 of the 8 champions league finals, now most don’t even reach the quarters. Man City are perennial failures, Arsenal are going to soon lose their pot 1 place having not passed the last 16 in 5 years, and Manchester United and Liverpool have fallen away altogether. Only Chelsea remain a potential winner and they only reached the Quarters.

This is the sad truth that nothing lasts forever, and everything is replaceable. People may think the league will only get bigger but they thought that of Serie A in the 90’s and looked how thats turned out. Many easily forget that the Serie A was the worlds best league just 20 years ago, sucking in all the talent. Yet now their major clubs such as AC and Inter are crumbling under weak club infrastructure, and the leagues best teams are having to sell off their assets like Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic a few years ago. Now it is slowly becoming a once sided league dominated by Juventus and I fear the BPL collapsing in the same way, it’s happened before, and those who think no one could replace it are naive. If La Liga’s legal case to equalise the TV rights works, the league will change dramatically and once more teams like Valencia can weigh in at the big time. They will close the wage gap with the BPL, and the likes of Getafe and Sociedad will be no longer out gunned for money by the likes of their English equivalents Aston Villa and Southampton. This could see a drastic shift and thats just in the short term. The long term could see something even more fatal for the Premier league and that is the MLS. Often seen as the retirement place of BPL veterans the league is growing at a rate no one anticipated. With the signings of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo possibly following them to join David Villa and Kaka this league is no longer just for those who used to play in big leagues. This year sees the incredible statistic found by the daily mail that more US schoolchildren are now playing Soccer than American football and with 24 million viewing the US strong showing in the 2014 world cup it is only growing. Even club attendances are growing and the Seattle Sounders now bring in more fans than Chelsea on match days. America has money, it has more than the BPL, and if the MLS really gets going it may start using it. This could be catastrophic for the Premier League and if that selling point of offering the most money is taken away, I don’t think the worlds best players aren’t going to stay for the history and atmosphere. Some do, as Italy shows, but not the very best. It’s true the Champions league is the big draw but with the world only getting smaller I could see the MLS joining in some capacity, and they already have enough players coming through themselves with their sporting infrastructure.

Seattle Sounders have some attendances reaching over 50,000

Seattle Sounders have some attendances reaching over 50,000.

I’m not saying this will happen straight away and it won’t. Serie A didn’t die overnight, but those who think the BPL is any different are kidding themselves.

The BPL may not be forever guys, and I think it’s changing already.

As much as Cech is a brilliant signing, have Arsenal’s goalkeeper options really been that bad?

As suggested in the title, I don’t actually think Arsenal were suffering that badly in the goalkeeping position last season. In fact i thought having two fairly good goalkeepers was great for the competition between them, driving each of them onto better things and David Ospina really coming into his own by the end of the season.

Rumours are circulating today that Cech has finally completed his £11 million move to Arsenal. Which don’t get me wrong is probably going to be one of the signings Arsenal have ever made. He is in my opinion still in the top 5 keepers in the world, but those who claim there was a crisis in the goalkeeping position are naive. This isn’t me arguing against the purchase of Cech, simply questioning those who have been criticising our keepers all season. Have Arsenal fans so easily forgotten the years and years of complete ineptitude delivered to us by Manuel Almunia? In my eyes the worst keeper to ever pull on the Arsenal shirt.

David Ospina despite all the odds was last season the best keeper in the league going by stats. I wouldn’t say he was by any means the most talented, and stats can often lie, but there has got to be something in the fact that he pulled off the most clean sheets, highest percentage of shots saved, and the least goals conceded per game of any goalkeeper playing more than 10 games. (Funnily enough Petr Cech is the only one with a better overall better performance over 5 games) So I question anyone saying Arsenal have particularly ‘needed’ a keeper. Especially when on the bench despite all his issues is a relatively young Woijciech Sczcesny who was actually a fairly good No.1 for a couple of seasons. Equally Arsenal have not had a stronger group of Goalkeepers at any time in the last decade, arguably even since David Seaman. Jens Lehmann was a very good keeper but later in his career his form waned and since him the likes of Almunia, Fabianski, and Mannone were never up to the standard of a club trying to win trophies. So now we have two international keepers on the books i ask what crisis?

David Ospina Stats

My only actual issue with the purchase of Cech will be the all but inevitable sale of Ospina. Sadly given Sczcesny’s homegrown status the Columbian shot stopper is likely to be shown the door ahead of the Pole, who i would much rather see the back of in his place. The sale of Ospina is definitely something that i think may hurt Arsenal in the long run, as even though Sczcesny is ok, i doubt he’ll ever grow into the No. 1 Arsenal demand, and though Cech still has a few years in him it wont be long till Arsenal will be seeking a long term replacement. A position i feel Ospina would make his own, bearing in mind this guy has been in England for just one year and has been sensational. He could grow into a real cult hero, and it is rare to find a good keeper who seems to be ok fighting to the No. 1 jersey from No. 2. You cant buy that, and i think the gunners could regret it.

However, i should emphasise that the purchase of Cech is sensational and a real game changer. Even better when you consider that he only cost £11 million. Despite all my appreciation for Ospina, obviously Petr Cech is in another league, and it wasn’t too far of John Terry to say this morning that he is worth 15 points a year. Mourinho didn’t want to sell for a reason, and this buy can take arsenal to the next level. Not to mention the fact the Cech has won it all and can bring that winning attitude to an already positive dressing room. If Cech can use his chance at Arsenal to get back to his best and prove to Chelsea he never lost his talent, I think he could go as far as being the key piece in the puzzle for Arsenal’s title bid… after all this guy has been a thorn in our side for years, so it’ll be great to have him in our end for a change.

Petr Cech may be the missing piece to Arsenal's title challenge

Petr Cech may be the missing piece to Arsenal’s title challenge.

State of the Home Nations

Home nations football is traditionally pretty shocking. But with the increased size of Euro 2016 many have a chance of qualification which they could previously only dream of, and it looks like the Home nations are now stepping up their game.

England are almost always guaranteed a spot at major tournaments and rarely fail, equally Ireland often make up the numbers at world cups and european championships, but Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland rarely ever make it. Wales have made only one appearance at a World Cup, Northern Ireland three, and Scotland though previously a fairly successful side have struggled since the early 90’s. These are countries who have frequently boasted very good players but cannot muster good performances on a team level. Until what i’m hoping a stupid amount is now as quite frankly i’m bored of the the England national team, and i want someone else to shout for. So this is how they’re doing.

WALES

With Wales’ win against Belgium there is now a very real chance of qualification to get to their first major tournament since 1958. Chris Coleman’s side now top their group by 3 points, and with some tricky games out of the way, and a game against Cyprus to come, the Welsh can finally be optimistic. This is not however a sudden rise, Wales have been slowly progressing for a while and i feel that had Gary Speed’s tragic death not occurred his side would have done very well long before now. This team has been playing together for a while with many of the players like Aaron Ramsey and Gareth bale already being seasoned internationals, even less heard of players such as Chris Gunter have 55 games of international experience. This is the reason for the sudden change in fortune of Wales, and it shouldn’t be put down to a ‘golden generation’. After all the previous Welsh side that competed in the early 00’s contained far more premier league experience and was littered with big names. The likes of Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage, John Hartson and Daniel Gaddidon played in the Millenium stadium along with others like even Craig Bellamy. So those saying its because of Bale don’t know what their talking about. This team is doing well because its had time to gel, not because of a few good players. With some luck though, they are going to make it to France.

If anything the Welsh team of the early 2000's had more talent, but the current crop have been gaining experience for years.

If anything the Welsh team of the early 2000’s had more talent, but the current crop have been gaining experience for years.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Wales aren’t the only team doing well either, the traditionally worst side in the British isles also have a chance of getting to their first ever European championship. Rarely having anything to shout about, Northern Ireland actually now stand more of a chance of reaching Euro 2016 than their southern neighbours in the Republic. Under the careful stewardship of Michael O’Neill and 5 goals from Kyle Lafferty, Northern Ireland FINALLY have a realistic shot at getting there. Kyle Lafferty somehow has scored in each victory, becoming the emblem of the new Northern Ireland in the process. Despite having scored just one club goal in turkey all season, a man not wanted by Palermo or Norwich Lafferty seems to become a different man when he gets going for his country, and with a game against the Faroe islands coming up in september they can get even closer to qualification. Though they will have to probably fight to the very end with Hungary just behind, its nice to finally be able to be positive about the national side of a country so devoted to football.

Kyle Lafferty has fired Northern Ireland to second in Group F

Kyle Lafferty has fired Northern Ireland to second in Group F

ENGLAND

Next obviously, England. There is less to say to be honest about England given the fact they are expected to breeze through qualifying maybe even with a 100% record. They don’t tend to struggle in the early stages (cough cough 2008) and they should be fine this time round as well. With games against San marino and Lithuania still to play, they will almost definitely top their group and Wilshere’s two goals against Slovenia bode well for his future in the team, and as a group they seem to be doing really well. I think Hodgson is actually a really good coach and i think with the expanded tournament in 2016 they may stand more of a chance of getting further than previously, but i’d still deem making the semi’s a big success.

SCOTLAND

Scotland are an enigma, people almost unanimously say they are rubbish yet they always come really close to qualifying, like in 2008 when they beat Italy and France, or now with them being just 3 points behind Germany. But yet again it seems they probably wont get through with Poland doing well and Lewandowski leading the tournament goals tally, along with World cup winners Germany ahead of them in the group. One would hope they can grab third and get through in a play off, but its a free for all in the play offs and nothing is guaranteed, but then again that could work in their favour. Gordon Strachan has definitely got them improving though and having beaten Ireland and drawn with them in the second game, they will probably get 3rd.

Strachan has given Scotland a chance of reaching their first major tournament since 1998

Strachan has given Scotland a chance of reaching their first major tournament since 1998

IRELAND

Ireland are a good team normally, and frequently make major tournaments. Having irish family i tend to support them even ahead of England sometimes, but they haven’t done well and i don’t reckon they’ll get to France in 2016. Even Kevin Kilbane who won 110 caps with the Irish National side stated that he was pessimistic after the Scotland draw. Its quite a sad story for Ireland. Having arguably one of the best managers around in Martin O’Neill and an experienced back room team including the likes of Roy Keane has led to something of a disappointment as they have failed to stop something of a rot which set in after their dismal Euro 2012 performance. Having previously featured in the last Euro’s most had expected the Irish to make it again given there were 8 more slots than in 2012. However with an ageing side the Irish team seems to lack bite and the presence of (with respect) David McGoldrick in the team which played England shows the teams recent decline. Ireland have had to deal with the retirement of previous stars like Robbie Keane, Shay Given, Damien Duff and Richard Dunne in the past four years. Sadly it seems even a manager of O’Neill’s calibre hasn’t been able to halt the slide and the Irish seem to have declined quite sharply.

Ireland have struggled with the loss of Stalwarts like Duff and Keane

Ireland have struggled with the loss of Stalwarts   like Duff and Keane.

Overall though, the Home nation’s fortunes seem to be looking up.