By Josif with additional bits culled from the nation’s newspapers
Did you know:
1: That Arsene Wenger has won all three titles in even-numbered years (1998, 2002, 2004)
2. That Arsenal have beaten Manchester clubs four times in five attempts in 2015, with a draw that was essentially a victory in the 3rd place battle.
3. That Arsenal have been the only team to put three past United, three past Watford and five past Leicester,
4. That Olivier Giroud has scored 28 goals in 2015,
5. That Olivier Giroud has already done something Thierry Henry had never done for any of his clubs and France – Giroud’s goal in the FA Cup Final 2015 means he has scored a goal in a final of a competition. Thierry played eight finals and didn’t score once!
6. That Alexis is a reigning champion of South America, Ozil and Mert reigning world champions and Cazorla is a reigning champion of Europe.
7. That Petr Cech has already knocked Barcelona out twice over two games with his former club?
Now the Untold team readily admitted that by and large we didn’t know this, and by and large we couldn’t actually add any more “Did you know” stories.
So we tried something else: “Could you imagine?” And we came up with this. “Could you imagine a national newspaper in Britain coming up with the headline
More delusions of adequacy from Allardyce
That in fact is in the Guardian today. Anyway, the discussions had started and we moved on to a piece in the Telegraph in which they have come up with their list of the top 20 midfielders in the Premier League. Interestingly three of the top 10 are Arsenal men…
1 – Santi Cazorla, Arsenal
Santi Cazorla has become the best midfielder in the Premier League over the last two seasons, moving to a deeper playmaking role alongside a more defensive partner in Francis Coquelin. This positional switch has coincided with Arsenal becoming genuine title contenders as from the bit in the middle of the pitch, the hugely creative Spaniard can control the play and allow Mesut Ozil more freedom ahead. Since January he has been superb, assisting 11 goals, creating 72 chances and maintaining a pass accuracy of 90.16%. Below Cazorla’s name in that list of master passers is almost every single other midfield player in the league, and he’s done it while under constant pressing pressure.
2 – Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
The doubters have finally been proven wrong – it’s officially fine to acknowledge the talents of Arsenal’s midfield maestro. This season Mesut Ozil has been on a different planet and since January he looks to have fully adjusted to the demands of the Premier League. The German has created 136 chances – 37 more than his nearest rival (Eden Hazard) over the course of the year – as well as assisting 20 goals and scoring six others. His work-rate no longer goes unnoticed either. But there is another…
9 – Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal
Aaron Ramsey is enjoying a spell in his favourite position in central midfield at the moment and has been brilliant for Arsenal all over the pitch for an entire year. Injuries have curbed his momentum along the way but last season he was a goal scoring hero and this season he’s been working hard on the right wing. Six goals and five assists is a good return but he can still get much, much better.
They did the same again for forwards. Here two of the top eight are ours.
2 – Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal
Alexis Sanchez’s work-rate is astounding and you can genuinely see the effect it has on his teammates when he’s in the team. His 12 goals and three assists in 2015 don’t really begin to explain or do justice to what it is he brings to Arsenal but if you do want some stats, try this: in 2015 Alexis has created more chances and dribbled past more defenders than any other forward in the Premier League.
And all this achieved while supposedly exhausted and carrying an injury. FAO Daniel Sturridge.
8 – Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
The debate as to whether Olivier Giroud is world class is not is both tedious and pointless, since what that means in essence, is that if a group of space aliens came down to earth to play us at football, those are the players we would put in a team against them. Giroud probably won’t save the planet but has scored 19 goals all year, as well as being exactly the kind of striker Arsenal’s forward players need – holding up the ball, linking play and being a target man. If Benzema is Spotify Premium, Giroud is Spotify free.
They also have one more in the top 20…
18 – Theo Walcott, Arsenal
Theo Walcott impressed earlier this season when played as the main striker in Olivier Giroud’s absence – and then at his expense – and has done well to recover from serious injury. Crucially, Walcott hasn’t lost any of his pace since that cruciate ligament surgery and is an excellent outlet for Mesut Ozil. Walcott has scored eight goals in 28 appearances this year.
OK, by this time we were wandering away from Josif’s original brief but we finished the meeting, and wrapped it up for the day with a gathering together of all the players the BBC thought could sign for Arsenal this month.
MICHY BATSHUAYI (22, striker) Marseille
At the age of only 22, he is likely to make the Belgium Euro 2016 squad and has scored in both of his appearances for his country so far. Only PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has netted more goals than Batshuayi in Ligue 1 this season.
LARS BENDER (26, midfielder) Bayer Leverkusen
The German international – the twin of Borussia Dortmund player Sven – has played in the Champions League this season and is solid and dependable.
GONZALO HIGUAIN (28, striker) Napoli
We all laughed so much at this point that I spilled my glass of wine on our notes, so we can’t tell you what the BBC said.
GRZEGORZ KRYCHOWIAK (25, midfielder) Sevilla
How many defensive midfielders do we need? But maybe we aren’t buying that Egyptian chap.
RUBEN NEVES (18, midfielder) Porto
A regular in the Porto side as well as taking the captain’s armband at his tender age, Neves is already a Portugal international and looks destined for the top.
NOLITO (29, winger/striker) Celta Vigo
We don’t need another wide man – especially one of this age.
ADRIEN RABIOT (20, midfielder) Paris St-Germain
The young Frenchman has said he wants to leave the club on loan in January, despite featuring quite often for the Ligue 1 leaders this season.
KELECHI NWAKALI (17, midfielder) ASJ Football Academy
Tipped as a future star, Nwakali was the captain of the Nigeria team that won the Under-17 World Cup earlier this year. His brother Chidiebere Nwakali is already at Manchester City
ALEXANDRE PATO (26, striker) Sao Paulo – on loan from Corinthians
The Brazilian and his advisers are desperate to move him to England. Corinthians’ £15m asking price is high, but Pato has rediscovered his best form after five injury-hit years at AC Milan and possibly still has his best years ahead of him.
So there you are. Now you know everything. Feel’s good doesn’t it?
The secrets of Arsenal’s success – looking back to 2015
- Untold reaches 1.17 million readers and other ups and down of 2015.
- Looking back at 2015 – The Untold Review part 1
- Looking back at 2015 – part 2. Best defence, most points, best goal difference, sack Wenger.
- Looking back at 2015 – part 3. Özil, Alexis, Bellerin, Coquelin.