Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Assists of the Week - Sunday 25th October 2009

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Assists of the Week - Sunday 18th October 2009

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Cesc Fabregas Best Assists

Frank Lampard 2008/2009

Song: Skylight by Overseer

Hitler Reacts to Chelsea's Transfer Ban

Great Arsenal Individual Goals, Part 2

Great Arsenal Individual Goals, Part 1

Thierry Henry Assists

Song: Let 'Em Know by Souls of Mischief

David Beckham Goals, Passes + Assists 1998/1999

Song: 93 'Til Infinity by Souls of Mischief

Great Arsenal Counterattacks + Team Goals, Part 2

Great Arsenal Counterattacks + Team Goals, Part 1

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Goals 2008/2009

Song: U Can't Touch This by MC Hammer

Player Profile: Patrick Vieira

In September 1996, while Arsenal were in negotiations with prospective new manager Arsene Wenger, the former Monaco boss had an unusual request. One of the conditions of his signature was that the board complete the signing of a young French midfielder from Milan prior to his arrival several months later. Exactly why Wenger had pinpointed this unknown teen - stagnating in the Italian side's reserve team - was unknown, but clearly Wenger saw something in him. His name was Patrick Vieira, and he was to become one of the cornerstones of Arsenal's successes under Wenger.

Vieira initially started out his Arsenal career as a gangly yet combative central midfielder, putting his long legs to good use with precision slide tackles. His aggressive style of play did however result in him picking up plenty of bookings and red cards in his first few years, and his volatile temper often got him in trouble as he retaliated against opposition players who would look to wind him up.

His first season at the club was a success as he established himself as one of the brightest young midfield talents in the league. However he was far from the finished article. Aside from the obvious disciplinary problems, Vieira's decision-making could be lacking at times and he wasn't the tidiest of passers. Being only 21, he did have time on his side though, and the arrival of Emmanuel Petit would see Vieira mature into a top class midfielder.

The two struck an instant chord with each other, not least because they both shared the same language and culture. On the pitch they played like twin brothers, taking it in turns to hold or attack the midfield. Vieira, being naturally a more attack-minded player, was the more progressive of the two and developed a trademark surging dribble through the centre of midfield that would cause panic among the opposition ranks. This was most evident in the FA Cup semi final against Wolves, where his piercing dribble set up Christopher Wreh for the only goal of the game.

Vieira wasn't a particularly clean striker of the ball from distance, but on the few occasions that he did score they tended to be memorable hits. He hit an excellent first-time swerving strike in the 3-2 home win over Man Utd in 97, and followed it up later that season with a rocket into the top corner of the net against Newcastle. Vieira ended the season with a league and cup double, the first but not last of his career.

Over the next 3 seasons, Vieira and Arsenal won no major trophies but it was more down to an ageing defence and constant injuries to Dennis Bergkamp than through any fault of Vieira. In fact Vieira was beginning to truly develop himself into a world class midfielder and by 2001 you could say for definite that he was among an elite category in world football. He had gained physical strength, was much more composed on the ball, and his passing had developed to an excellent standard. He could often be seen striding through midfield, playing delicate passes with the outside of his boot and generally looking like he owned the place. He was in the truest sense a midfield general. It was a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the early Vieira. Not that he'd lost his defensive capabilities of course, he had simply become a more intelligent operator and knew when the right time was to sit back and intercept or close down and tackle.

Vieira had also improved his attacking runs and over the last few years of his Arsenal career, his trademark goal would be the run beyond the opposition defence followed by a calm chip over the keeper. Vieira was on the finishing end of arguably 2 of Arsenal's greatest team goals of the last decade, the first a delicate left-footed chip against Liverpool in 04/05 after a fantastic one-touch passing triangle with Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, and the second a similar goal against Everton in the same season, this time scored with his right.

Vieira won his 2nd double in 01/02, capping a good individual season for himself but it had taken him until the the last 5 months to really hit top gear. The following season injuries started to take their toll on the Frenchman and he missed a fair chunk of the tail end of the campaign, in which Arsenal disappointingly blew a healthy lead at the top of the Premier League table to finish runners-up behind Man Utd. By then he had become Arsenal captain, and although he didn't play in the final, he had another FA Cup to add to his tally that season.

2003/2004 saw the return of the best of Vieira as he captained Arsenal to an unbeaten Premier League campaign. Vieira dominated midfields alongside Gilberto Silva, who had been acquired the previous season. He scored few goals, but they were crucial ones. His first sealed a 2-1 win against main title challengers Chelsea, and his second was the opening goal of the 2-2 draw against Spurs that would see Arsenal clinch the title at their rivals' ground. Fittingly, he scored the last goal of the season against Leicester after making a typical run beyond the defence to latch onto a brilliant Bergkamp throughball. It gave Arsenal a 2-1 lead and ensured they would end the league season undefeated, a fantastic achievement which may never be repeated.

In his final year at the club, Vieira played a distinctly more attacking role, recording more goals and direct assists than he'd ever done in a single season. There was the feeling however that his performance levels had dropped and he was no longer dominating midfields as he'd done for nearly a decade. Niggling injuries had started to kick in and perhaps he was no longer up to the rigours of a gruelling 50-game campaign.

Although there had been constant speculation regarding his future for several seasons, it came as a bit of a surprise when he moved to Juventus for £13m in the summer of 2005. It felt like the end of an era for many Arsenal fans, an era that had brought so much success for the club and joy to many fans across the world. Vieira didn't leave with a whimper though. Even though he didn't know it at the time, his last act as an Arsenal player and captain was to convert the winning penalty in the FA Cup final shootout against Man Utd.

Patrick Vieira is a genuine Arsenal great and it'll be a long time before we see a player of similar stature, ability and class.

Gonzalo Higuain Goals + Assists 2008/2009

Song: Volando Voy by Kiko Veneno

Thierry Henry Goals + Assists 2002/2003

Song: My Shooter by Groove Cutter

Robert Pires Goals, Passes + Assists 2001/2002

Song: The Scientist by Coldplay

Dennis Bergkamp Goals + Assists 1997/1998

Cesc Fabregas 2008/2009 - Pass Master

Andrey Arshavin Goals, Passes + Assists 2008/2009

Song: Breathe by Telepopmusik

Yoann Gourcuff Goals + Assists 2008/2009

Song: Return of the Tres by Delinquent Habits

Robin van Persie Goals + Assists 2008/2009

Song: Spiritualize by Lotus

Dimitar Berbatov Goals + Assists 2008/2009

Song: Ashes by Embrace

Samuel Eto'o Top 10 Goals 2008/2009

Song: In This City by Iglu + Hartly

Lionel Messi Assists 2008/2009

Song: Right Here Right Now (Redanka Mix) by Fatboy Slim

Xavi Assists 2008/2009

A superb season for Xavi, scoring 10 goals + providing an incredible 29 assists to help Barca win the treble for the first time in their history.

Statistically the most creative player in Europe, creating 129 goal-scoring chances in the league and 41 in the Champions League (OPTA stats).

Song: Destination Unknown (Carribbean Mix) by Alex Gaudino