All posts by Aaron Sharp

In Arsene we trust? Wenger out?

I don’t understand Arsene Wenger. 26 days into the transfer window and still no signings. Adrian Durham on Talksport described the 5-1 midweek win over West Ham, as a ‘must lose’ game if Arsenal fans expect any signings this January – And he is right.
 

It seems whenever Arsenal record a comfortable win over lesser opposition; their fans forget previous games where their performance may not have been quite as impressive – “Wenger Out!” one week and “In Arsene we trust” the next.

 It’s the same old story after the win over the Hammers, Arsene now has an excuse not to spend a penny this January. Arsenal are in desperate need of some new faces, a defensive midfielder being the priority. Until Arsene realizes the gap between the Gooners and the likes of Chelsea and the Manchester clubs, Arsenal’s wait for silverware will continue for many more years.

 David Villa, Stevan Jovetic, Mario Gotze and Edison Cavani are just some of the big names that have been linked with a move to the Emirates this month, but can anyone really see Arsene luring any of them in? I’m sure after all the speculation, Arsene will settle for West Ham’s midfielder Diame instead, but with Spurs reportedly interested in the Senegalese international as a replacement for the injured Sandro, Arsene will most likely end January with nothing.

3 La Liga stars Premier League clubs should be looking at

Swansea have shown how beneficial it can be to do your shopping in La Liga, staying away from Barcelona and Real Madrid, you can grab some bargains. Here are some players that I feel would benefit any Premier League side.

 

Iker Muniain – Athletic Bilbao

Muniain first came to most peoples attention when he and his Athletic Bilbao side swept Manchester United aside in last seasons Europa League. He put in some terrific performances last season and he was subsequently dubbed ‘The Spanish Messi’. Despite being only 20-years-old, Muniain has notched up over 110 appearances for Bilbao and has represented his country, the world champions Spain, at every possible level. After Bilbao’s impressive 2011/12 season, they have somewhat failed to live up to last seasons highs in the current campaign. However Muniain did look remarkably comfortable up against Europe’s best and he’d be a welcome addition to any Premier League side.

 

Iago Aspas – Celta Vigo
The Spaniard has been a stand out performer so far this season for what is a mid-table La Liga side. There has been talk of interest across Europe for the Celta strikers signature, but so far nothing has come to fruition. Last season Aspas scored an impressive 23 goals in 35 La Liga appearances and at the age of 25, stats usually suggest that the coming years we will see Aspas hit his peak. He has been linked with many clubs over recent times and if the Spaniard keeps up this seasons form many more clubs will come knocking.

 

Isco – Malaga
The 20-year-old everybody is talking about. Isco has shone for Malaga in La Liga this season and has also impressed in their Champions League debut. The former Valencia trainee has attracted interest from all across Europe with Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City all reportedly showing signs of interest. Isco was compared to fellow Spanish international David Silva in his time at Valencia and his performances of late have done no harm to such a flattering comparison. There is no doubt Isco will cost in the region of €15,000,000 but for such a special player at such an age, it may well be a worth while investment.

 

Another overpriced youngster

It finally looks like the Wilfred Zaha saga is over, after months of speculation and rumours it appears that only one club were really that interested. Manchester United are said to have agreed a deal with Crystal Palace in the region of £15,000,000 – Shocking I know. Whoever values our young English talent nees to take a good look at themselves, a good look.

 

Not only is the sizeable figure damaging to a clubs bank account, but it can seriously damage a player career. We, as inpatient English football fans, expect too much too soon. Two or three good performances for a young English midfielder and the media think they’ve unearthed ‘The New Paul Scholes’ – it doesn’t work like that. 

Wilfred Zaha has been good for Crystal Palace this season, not great but good. Four goals and five assists in the second tier of English football to me doesnt not suggest a £pound;15,000,000 player, it may suggest a promising player but to put such a hefty price tag on the shoulders of such a young footballer is a huge risk.

We as a nation need to nurture the young English talent that is found, we needn’t rush them but let them grow naturally as players. In most cases, it seems that after a promising season for a young footballer, they are snapped up by a bigger side and made to sit on the bench and sometimes to play at reserve level.

This doesn’t only happen at club level, in the national side young players are in the under 21 side for almost no time at all before they are hastily called up to the first team – sometimes they bypass the under 21’s altogether. But how many times has this actually worked? With the exception of Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere not many have actually succeeded. Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jack Rodwell, Jordan Henderson have all been called up too soon and are now vying for spots at this years under 21 European championships.

Money is infecting the English ame and a solution needs to be put into place, not only to save our league but to create a national side that may one day replicate ’66.

 

Spurs’ search for a striker continues

Tottenham, are in desperate need of a striker, not least to ease the goalscoring load that Jermain Defoe is currently holding. With Adebayor off at the African Cup of nations, Spurs have just one recognised out and out striker in their squad. With just over a week remaining of the transfer window, I’m sure Andre Villas-Boas will be on the look out for a quick deal that could have a major say on their season.

Fernando Llorente – Athletic Bilbao

We all know what Fernando Llorente is about’ he’s a strong tall and powerful player – Probably the least Spanish styled Spanish player I have ever seen, but perfect for the Premier League. Although he hasn’t been as prolific this season, last season he bagged 29 goals in 53 appearances. With Italian sides Juventus nearing a deal with the Spaniard; Spurs would have to hijack that move fast.

 

Vydra – Watford (on loan from Udinese)

The 20-year-old Czech striker has shone since arriving on loan at Vicarage Road this summer from Italian side Udinese. Vydra has scored 16 goals in 23 Championship appearances for Gianfranco Zola’s Watford side and such form has alerted a host of clubs across Europe. In 2010, whilst still at Czech side Banik Ostrava, Vydra was voted ‘Czech Revelation of the year’ earning him a move to Udinese for 100,000,000 Czech Koruna (Just over £3,000,000). This young spark could be exactly what Spurs need to spice up their attack, from his showings in the Championship this sounds pretty do-able to me.

 

Gary Hooper – Celtic

Hooper has been a prolific goalscorer ever since he graced the Scottish Premier League. He has recently been the subject of two failed bids from Premier League side Norwich City and has in the past few days rejected a new deal at Celtic Park. Spurs will need to bid at least £8,000,000 to secure the services of the 24-year-old, after Norwich failed with bids of £5,000,000 and £6,000,000, but Hooper is a natural finisher and no matter what league, as long as he gets the service he will score.

 

Christian Benteke – (Aston Villa)

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, every team needs a Belgian. In fact Spurs already have two but one more wouldn’t hurt. Christian Benteke has impressed in what is an unimpressive Aston Villa side. To score seven goals this season with the service he has had in incredible. Strong, quick and with a fantastic finish, this 22-year-old is destined foe great things. If he doesn’t leave Villa Park this January, I’m sure he will jump ship in the summer; he deserves more than a Premier League relegation battle.

 

 

Cor-tese does it – Nigel Adkins sacked

Nigel Adkins was sacked as manager of Southampton Football Club yesterday and immediately replaced with Argentinean manager, non English speaking, Mauricio Pochettino.
This follows a fantastic 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge with current Champions of Europe Chelsea and a run of 12 games where they have tasted defeat only twice. However it seems this sort of form doesn’t quite cut it for Southampton’s executive chairman Nicola Cortese who insisted his actions were purely for footballing reasons and to take Southampton Football Club forward.
Adkins was appointed manager of Southampton in 2010 and has guided them to back-to-back promotions, from the lower end of League One to the Premier League – In view of this, it may be quite a harsh decision, however I do see where Cortese is coming from.
It’s a huge gamble at this stage of the season, especially when Southampton are finally beginning to adjust to Premier League life, but was there really much more Adkins could offer? With Pochettino at the helm, they have someone who has played the modern game and according to sources from his time with Espanyol, he is a ‘great tactician’. They have someone who is young and if successful could be at the club for years to come.
This could go either way, Improvement – Where Southampton begin to play ‘The Spanish Way’ and light up the Premier League or Deterioration – Where Southampton revert back to how they started the season and plummet back down to the Championship.
As I said, this is a huge gamble by Cortese and with just under half of the transfer window left, I expect there to be a few arrivals at St Mary’s in the coming days, but only time will tell how this will end.

 

The defensive midfielder(Video)

The holding midfield position is one that is often overlooked. Although it may not be the most glamorous of jobs on the pitch, it is essential to a successful team. A defence often needs a helping hand, that’s where a holding midfielder comes in, picks up the pieces, breaks up play. As I said not the most glamorous of jobs, but one that is vital. 
In most cases, it is who ends an attack that grabs the headlines. The media do not give the defensive midfielder (DM) the credit they deserve as most of the time, it is the DM who begins such an attack, yet still it is the goalscorer who grabs the back page.
A DM does not need to be skillful or fast, but they need to be clever. Reading the play is the most important part of being a great DM, this leads to vital tackles or interception. For example, Xabi Alonso is a World Cup winner, European Championship winner, Champions League winner you name it, most of the time he has won it.
Spain, Real Madrid and Liverpool could not have won these trophies without a trusty DM. The same as France could not have triumphed at World Cup 1998 without Petit, Italy without Pirlo and even Greece without Karagounis.
It saddens me that in this day and age, football is all about the goals and the ‘tekkers’. Football is about pride and determination and without the classic defensive midfielder these would not exist.
Long live the DMC.
@TaylerWillson