Saturday, 20 January 2018

Why losing Sanchez will make Arsenal a BETTER team


When you hear the word ‘Arsenal’, most these days will scoff at the series of ‘4th’ memes, the various Arsenal FanTV videos floating around YouTube, and irate supporters (like myself) calling into football phone-ins.

But scratch beneath the surface, and you’ll find a club famed for their “Wengerball’ mentality, a style of play first founded a full decade before Guardiola’s “Tiki Taka.” Essentially the same tactic, but attached to a phrase coined by Gunners fans in honour of their once loved, now loathed, manager, Arsenal became known for utilising a series of diminutive playmakers to provide scintillating one-touch football, dizzying their opponents through neat passing triangles and supreme domination of possession.


Perhaps the biggest source of mourning from Gooners in modern times comes from not-so-much their “lack of success” (6 trophies, including 3 FA Cups in the past 4 years is certainly something the Arsenal-hating media seem keen to gloss over, a feat further highlighted by the absence of discussion when pointing towards Liverpool’s stretch for a major trophy (Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup) - now dating a full 12 years, or Tottenham’s even girthier 27 years - and counting - wait), but instead the absence of the signature style they became known for worldwide.

With a midfield packed with Wenger’s “inside wingers” (central playmakers shunted into wide positions), Arsenal could call upon the likes of Fabregas, Hleb, Rosicky, and later, Arshavin and Nasri, to prove bewitching through balls round bamboozled defenders. The 2011 departure of the latter, coupled with the loss of Robin Van Persie (the last Arsenal centre-forward capable of running the channels efficiently), saw Wenger revert to a variation in style, utilising the hold-up skills of Olivier Giroud, and a deep-lying playmaker (with Alex Song, Mikel Arteta, and in more recent times, the now crocked Santi Cazorla) performing this role. But as the style changed, the Wengerball dried up. And bar Jack Wilshere’s mind-blowing give and go against Norwich in 2013, it’s tough to recall a goal of similar beauty from a red shirt in recent times (on a frequent basis, at least). Perhaps the main reason why the Englishman is held in such high regard by Emirates fans is that in a current squad full of static midfielders (Granit Xhaka, anyone?), Jack is still the closest resemble to a true “Wengerball” player.


And so we come to Alexis Sanchez. And with Arsenal’s crumbling side in disarray, a hero has stepped forward so often to dig the team out of various scrapes. The issue for Arsenal, is that when the Chilean has been missing for any reason, the side have looked both startled, and entirely clueless going forward. The Gunners, so long a side characterised by intricate team play, have become Beckham’s England Vs Greece, Le Tissier’s Southampton, and Ronaldo’s Portugal post-Figo. A team relying on an individual so dependently, that even a slightly sub-par performance from their talisman will see their creative juices run completely dry.

It is, of course, not the first time an Arsenal side can be accused of such a feat. And with their hero Thierry Henry surrounded by a crèche of promising youngsters in the 2006/07 season, where the Frenchman saw the likes of Sol Campbell, Robert Pires, and Dennis Bergkamp only a few months previous, he now saw a raw Phillipe Senderos, a teenage Abou Diaby, and a Theo Walcott yet legally able to purchase a pint in his local boozer. His frustrations on the pitch became paramount, tutting, shrugging and sighing at every misplaced pass - in the same way Sanchez does now. When their King left for Catalan pastures new in June 2007, many of the players admitted to press that they felt “free” of living in his shadow, and the burden his reputation and obsessive winners mentality caused to the team. The Gunners, buoyed by the goals of a youthful Emmanuel Adebayor, rose to the top of the league, storming all before them up until ‘that’ Eduardo incident in the final stages of the season.


Will the goals and assists of Alexis Sanchez be sorely missed by Arsenal? Absolutely. But his impending replacements, partners in crime at Dortmund, are not exactly paperweights when it comes to productivity either. Pierre Emerick Aubemayang's 69 goals in his last 78 Bundesliga games is a quite frankly gluttonous tally, whilst those doubting Henrik Mkhitaryan's impact at Manchester United need only look to his Shakhtar days to prove he's no slouch in front of goal himself. Couple the 25 goal season (29 games) he enjoyed in 2013, along with the assist in every 2 games stat he averaged at Borussia Dortmund, many of which were provided for Aubemeyang, and you can see why Arsene Wenger will be hoping these two can rekindle their telepathic understanding in the same way former Ajax-colleagues Marc Overmars and Dennis Bergkamp hit it off at Highbury.

A failure to adapt to the Premier League for the Armenian? 5 assists in his first 3 matches this season would suggest otherwise. What we are, in fact, looking at, is yet another creative playmaker shackled by the stifling defensive tactics of Jose Mourinho. A manager who has marginalised similar talents in the past for their inability to track back, with the likes of Joe Cole, Guti, Raul, and Juan Mata all suffering at the hands of the Portugese. And though Wenger's current reputation hints at player regression, rather than progression (the flourishing talents of Serge Gnabry and to an extent, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain perhaps the greatest modern examples of a post-Arsenal renaissance), losing Alexis may result in a lack of individual magic, but the departure of a player who, on average, gives away possession between 30 and 40 times per match, will lead Arsenal into a more cohesive, possession-based, and team-influenced future.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

RANKED: Black Mirror Episodes, from Worst to Best

Charlie Brooker's 'Black Mirror' has changed the face of Television forever, with each episode crafting a series of genius concepts to show us how technology is ruling our lives in modern society. With Netflix now snapping up the rights to the former Channel 4 series, let's get down to the rankings, starting with...


19. San Junipero (Series 3, Episode 4)
A highly controversial choice at No. 19, search most ‘Black Mirror ranked’ lists and you’ll usually find this one on the podium. But whilst others were keen to praise the elliptical romance that warms the heart instead of bludgeoning it to death - an anomaly for Black Mirror - this slow paced, dreamy cloud of ‘filler’ was all subject and no substance. (Though, aesthetically orgasmic, admittedly.)




18. Metalhead (Series 4, Episode 5)
The tremendous Maxine Peake deserved so much more from her Black Mirror debut, but whilst the intention of a tense black-and-white thriller was clear, the execution was sadly left lacking in this hour-long snoozefest bereft of any true dramatic tension. Dog chases woman, will woman escape? Yawn. You’ll see similar scenes, albeit less violent, in your local park.




17. Arkangel (Series 4, Episode 2)
Directed by Jodie Foster, who seems to have a ‘thing’ for mothers and missing daughters (Flightplan, anyone?) here lies a cleverly crafted tale of Rosemarie DeWitt’s Marie, the obsessive mother intent on spying on all her daughter’s POV movements via her iPad. Once young Sara hits her teen years, she indulges in ‘teenage delights’ with the tension this causes the peak of the episode’s drama. Sadly predictable.





16. Men Against Fire (Series 3, Episode 5)

This list does get better, I promise. With a soldier wrestling a peculiar sickness after gunning down three of the feral mutant abominations that stalk a futuristic society, his sudden ‘PTSD’, is played out as an eventual “twist” which is so clearly telegraphed ahead of time that it hardly qualifies as such. We know you can do better, Charlie.




15. Be Right Back (Series 2, Episode 1)
A tear-jerker led by Star Wars villain Domhnall Gleeson, Brooker tackles death itself for this emotionally ravaging concept. A clever idea, as per, played out beautifully by the eerie feelings of uncertainty by the two lead characters, what could have been a firework-led extravaganza of an episode sadly fizzles out in the final third, resulting in a 15th place finish on this list.




14. The Waldo Moment (Series 2, Episode 3)
Perhaps Black Mirror’s most iconic episode, with the fandom of Waldo the bear even resulting in cuddly toy merchandise, the best episodes tiptoe along the tightrope between the plausible and the absurd. Giving us a peak into the future with the public backing an idiot for election (I’m looking at you, Donald), Brooker dips his toes into the political waters, but can’t surpass the outrageous ‘The National Anthem’ of Series 1.




13. USS Callister (Series 4, Episode 1)
With viewers spending the first half episode bemusing at where they’d seen lead actor Jesse Plemons before (aka Todd from Breaking Bad), this Star-Trek inspired sci-fi homage is both clever, and mind-warping. The part about Walton’s son Tommy will break your heart, whilst Cristin Milioti carries a huge amount of eroticism in her role. There’s also a further Breaking Bad nod in the final scene, featuring the voice of Aaron Paul. YO, BITCH!




12. Crocodile (Series 4, Episode 3)
A tale of how one disastrous decision can truly possess a domino effect, Mia’s past comes back to haunt her in this incredibly sinister tale of murder, lies, and deceit. As ever, technology plays an intrinsically clever part in our lead character’s demise, with the darker-than-dark ending leaving you screaming out your TV in horror, only for a typically Brooker twist to reveal a bittersweet and comedic level of justice to the piece.




11. Shut Up And Dance (Series 3, Episode 3)
Not the first time that Charlie Brooker has used the somewhat U-bended notion of painting the villain of the episode to serve as the hero for much of the running length (*Cough Cough* White Bear), Black Mirror excels in the grubby underworld of darkly kept secrets, with the seemingly innocent teen lead ‘Kenny’ in possession of one of the grittiest in the season’s history.





10. Hated In The Nation (Series 3, Episode 6)

A movie-length 90 minute running time sees ‘Hated In The Nation’ showcase everything ‘Metalhead’ wanted to be - only with real tension, as a series of drone bees turn serial killers for an unrelenting murder spree. Built upon tremendously well developed and deeply explored characters, here lies some of the best writing in the entire series.




9. Playtest (Series 3, Episode 2)
When Wyatt Russell’s weary globetrotter volunteers for a fully immersive, augmented-reality video game that uses your own memories to drop your worst fears right into the world around you, you’re left pondering… What could go wrong? Most definitely the scariest, and jumpiest, of all Black Mirror episodes, this spellbindingly twisted horror will mindfuck you so hard that you’ll be left awake for nights.




8. The National Anthem (Series 1, Episode 1)
Ah yes, the one where the Prime Minister fucks a pig. The first ever Black Mirror episode was quite a way to introduce us to this incredible programme, with the episode, understandably, gaining widespread media coverage. Take the ‘shock factor’ away from it, and you’re left with a brilliant portrayal of PM Michael Callow’s life, thanks to the sturdy acting talents of Rory Kinnear.





7. Black Museum (Series 4, Episode 6)

Intense and unsettling, the creepy, sweaty performance, of the sleazy Douglas Hodge is enough to give that ‘Spidey sense’ feeling to even the most oblivious of viewers, as we start to explore a dark dungeon full of technological delights, or in this case, horrors, resulting in a frantic finale that gathers in pace at just the right time. Echoing shades of 2017’s best film, ‘Get Out’, this racial exploration is a true masterpiece.




6. Hang the DJ (Series 4, Episode 4)
With Tinder now dominating the lives of, well, just about everybody. (Seriously, even your mum probably dabbles in it on the sly), dating is more awful than ever before. Peaky Blinders’ Joe Cole (Frank) matches with Amy (Georgina Campbell), and with their clear on-screen chemistry bristling from the off, the duo attempt to ‘break the system’ in a narrative dangerously close to same sludge-filled droids that wipe away aimlessly on the app in real life, desperately seeking a superficial ‘relationship.’




5. White Christmas (Holiday Special)
Led by the highly personable Rafe Spall of ‘Pete Versus Life’ fame, a pair of men hunker down on tales filled with dark secrets during a snowy blizzard, in what must be the darkest Christmas special ever made. Brooker is notoriously at his best when forming dark, warped, mindfucks that will spin seeds of doubt in the mind of the viewer, and ‘White Christmas’ encapsulates each of those traits perfectly.




4. The Entire History Of You (Series 1, Episode 3)
A concept that delights and scares in equal measure, the idea of being able to rewind back through every shot your eyes have laid eyes on sounds brilliant, on paper. But when RocknRolla’s Toby Kebbel takes his tech-enabled scrutinizing of every bi-second to obsessive levels, he discovers his entire existence has proved a lie. Brooker turned over the writers’ reins to Peep Show’s Jesse Armstrong on this one, with the latter delivering with aplomb.





3. Fifteen Million Merits (Series 1, Episode 2)

Andy Warhol famously prophesied that in the future, we will all be world famous for 15 minutes. But in this vicious swipe at the plastic generation of mind-numbing reality TV shows which inhibit our screens, Brooker puts the carnivorous culture of such programmes on trial, thanks to a stunning performance from Daniel Kaluuya, who was later cast as the lead in Oscar-nominated 2017 flick ‘Get Out’ thanks to this episode.




2. White Bear (Series 2, Episode 2)
Creating an entire episode of suspense and intrigue, a woman flees her unknown attackers, and seeks survival in a dystopian yet modern world. With horror aspects reminiscent of the 1970s film The Wicker Man, this episode reflects upon several aspects of contemporary society, such as media coverage of murders, technology's effects on people's empathy, desensitization, violence as entertainment, vigilantism, and the concept of justice and punishment.




1. Nosedive (Series 3, Episode 1)
This immaculate satire on the culture of likes and faves stars Bryce Dallas Howard and her aggravation over a ubiquitous rating system that’s sabotaged her social life. Soaked in warm pastel colours, this ‘Uber for humans’ style system dawns a light on how superficial modern society has become, and will lead you to estrange your iPhone… until a notification pops up confirming your latest ‘like’ of course.



Monday, 18 December 2017

Top 10: Dance Acts in 2018

As we bid farewell to 2017, it's time for the yearly look at those artists who are set to take the dance music world by storm in 2018! With much prestige behind this blog - previous winners include Avicii (2011), Alesso (2012), Tchami (2013), Oliver Heldens (2014), Disciples (2015), Marshmello (2016) and Mike Williams (2017)- it's fair to say the names you're about to read about will be names you'll be hearing MUCH more of in the coming months!

So let's get on with it....


10. Teamworx

The Israeli duo, best known for huge hits like 'Funky Music' and 'Never Stop' have dominated some of dance music scene’s most reputable imprints, including Spinnin’, Protocol, and Fonk Recordings, and have captured the support of world renowned A-lists Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Steve Angello, Martin Garrix, KSHMR, Nicky Romero, Hardwell, and Afrojack & David Guetta to name a few. Following a breakout year in 2017, 2018 is the time for Teamworx global domination.





9. Curbi

A future-bass hero catapulted into the limelight by Fox Stevenson collab 'HooHah' in 2015, Curbi well and truly returned in 2017, with his Mesto production 'BRUH' which became one of Ultra Music Festival's most played tracks. The release, which even received a spin from Tiesto in Miami, elevated Curbi to new heights with the youngster set to release a flurry of new music in 2018. Following the success of his Lucas & Steve and Mike Williams team-up 'Let's Go' - which is currently surging towards a whopping 5 million Spotify streams - Curbi's name will be one on many tongues over the next 12 months. You heard it here first!





8. Fisher

A wildly charismatic producer and one half of Cut Snake, Australian DJ and producer Fisher delivered his first ever EP on Claude von Stroke’s Dirtybird label in 2017, titling the production ‘Oi Oi’. The release, featured the massive ‘Ya Kidding’, a vibrant release backed by the likes of Annie Mac, Eats Everything, and BBC Radio 1 tastemaker Pete Tong, who played the track out in his sets at Park Life and Wild Life this year.






7. Zonderling

Dutch EDM duo Zonderling continue to impress through their dynamic remixes, and stomping original productions, with fellow Netherlands-native Don Diablo supporting them whole-heartedly through 2017. Signing their 'Tunnel Vision' track to his Hexagon label, Don gave the track a special edit. With 2018 looking like their biggest year yet, they'll look to follow up the success of their mainstage destroyer 'Sonderling.'







6. CID

CID's striking and infectious productions have so far captured the ears of many of the industry’s top players, including Kaskade, Galantis, Oliver Heldens, Tiesto, Cedric Gervais and Don Diablo, plus labels like Spinnin Records, Protocol Recordings, Size Records, Hexagon and more. CID's single "Secrets" with Conrad Sewell soon hit the big time, with 2018 looking increasingly likely to catapult the New Yorker into the public eye.





5. Icarus

Following the success of 'King Kong' in early 2017, Bristol brothers Tom and Ian Griffiths launched one of the summer's biggest hits in the shape of 'Trouble'. The track was supported by BBC Radio 1 and looks set to elevate Icarus to even bigger and brighter things over the next 12 months.






4. Corey James

Having enjoyed a stellar year in which the Liverpudlian teamed up with Teamworx, as well as featuring at regular Release showcase evenings for Third Party, 2017 was a huge one for Corey James. Speaking to We Rave You recently about his pride at performing at Creamfields, the UK producer is set to soar in 2018 under the tutorship of Steve Angello, having signed to the latter's SIZE Records label, and played as a support act at his Printworks show.






3. D.O.D

A producer thrust into the spotlight by his Axtone release 'Sixes', the track became the most played track of Ultra Music Festival 2017 according to 1001 Tracklists. Following up the release with bangers like 'Incline' and 'Unforgettable', The UK DJ, real name Dan O'Donnell, even performed for Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso at their London Kamio evening in March, with Axwell labelling him "A real talent" and "the future of dance music" - High praise indeed!






2. Throttle

The man who first burst onto our radar as chief collab on Oliver Heldens’ massive track “Waiting” has been churning out productions by the bucket load recently, as he gears up for a sensational 2018. A long-time friend of Oli’s, the Aussie producer stated: “Oliver has given me the best advice and been the one who’s been guiding my career.” 2018 is looking like Throttle's biggest year yet!






1. BROHUG

Taking bass music to a new level, Swedish trio BROHUG are the masterminds behind ‘Brohouse', the new sub-genre of dance centred around filthy in-your-face drops. Ripping the scene apart with their aggressive productions including a remix of Alesso's 'Falling', 2018 will see BROHUG take to the top!




Honourable mentions to those who just missed out on this year's Top 10:
Dropgun, DJ Licious, Aevion.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Dropping Özil is the key to Arsenal's future success


A little while since my last blog, I've decided to delve back into the realms of my old passion, sports journalism, this afternoon, to quickly brush on my beloved Arsenal's tactical decisions yesterday afternoon.

I won't bore you with the facts - you all know the drill. Arsenal have a mental block away from home against the big boys, and tend to get pummelled on a regular basis. That is, in no part, down to the tactical ineptitude of our dinosaur manager, whose stubborn nature will no doubt cost the side time and time again.

But yesterday, in securing a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, I saw a different Arsenal. A sign of how far we have fallen in the past decade can be viewed in most fan's relief/celebration at nabbing a point against Chelsea, and I refuse to stoop that low. But tactically, this was the most un-Wenger display in years.


I'd made a point in the week leading up the match, on why I'd sacrifice Mesut Özil in favour of a 4-1-2-3 style formation, similar to Jose Mourinho's original Chelsea side with Ramsey and Xhaka taking the Lampard and Tiago roles, and on this occasion, Mohamed Elneny performing the iconic 'Makelele role' in the anchor of midfield.

My main cause for such thought came from the clearly unstable pairing of Xhaka and Ramsey - neither of whom can operate in a true 'destroyer' role, with the latter bombing forward into the 'Number 10' position on any given opportunity, and the former much more of a deep-lying playmaker in the Pirlo/Xabi Alonso mould, than the Gattuso-style terrier we first thought we were receiving upon arrival in summer 2016.


Arsenal's main problem is that they do not, and have not since the departure of Gilberto Silva almost a decade ago, possess a defensive midfielder technically superior enough to pull off this role. Mathieu Flamini gave it a go for a few years, whilst Francis Coquelin has since stepped into those shoes, matching his French compatriot in terms of shouting and organisation the team, but proving very little in terms of an upgrade on overall ability.

The one wizard whose deep-lying playmaker abilities perfectly compliment the destruction of Coquelin, unfortunately rest at the ambidextrous feet of Arsenal's crippled Spaniard, Santi Cazorla, whose time on the treatment table in both 2015/16 and 2016/17 (non-coincidentally) coincided with the Gunners' severe slumps in form. And so we come to Ramsey.


Undoubtedly a player of supreme quality, Rambo's performances in a Wales shirt have looked of sharp contrast to those in the red and white of Arsenal, and much of that is down to the attacking freedom he is afforded by Chris Coleman. When we look at Aaron's best season in an Arsenal shirt, it is noticeable that he was playing alongside an anchorman in Mikel Arteta, and deep-lying playmaker in Jack Wilshere. With Xhaka playing the Wilshere role (or perhaps even the comeback kid himself, provided Jack can prove his fitness this term), Arsenal are in need of a defensive midfield lynchpin to allow Ramsey to bomb forward. For now, Elneny or Coquelin (upon return from injury) may have to suffice until next summer's transfer window reopens, but where this leaves Özil is quite obvious; the bench.

I'll first start by adding that I'm not one to downplay the quality of the German. I regularly hear pundits and ex-professionals down-playing his importance, labelling him a 'passenger' or (in the infamous case of Neil Ashton) accuse the playmaker of 'nicking a living'. That's bullshit. And in reality, these 'experts' are talking out of their arse. Mesut Özil is the most technically gifted player I've seen in the famous red shirt since the days of Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. He creates more chances, and provides more assists per season than not just any player in the Premier League, but in all of Europe's major leagues.


His issue, is that in modern football, especially with the rise of the wing-backs system made so successful by Antonio Conte's Chelsea, there is simply no room for a classic 'Number 10' anymore. Mesut's former side have enjoyed unrivalled success under Zinedine Zidane since dropping (and shipping out) James Rodriguez in favour of the more defensively minded Casemiro, alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, and several of Europe's top sides are following suit. The days of the Rivaldo, the Kaka, the Totti, are over. And no side can afford such a luxury in an evolving tactical landscape. Just as the flat 4-4-2 died died in the mid noughties, three at the back is now all the rage, and those who don't adapt, will be left behind.

Which brings us on to the most unadaptable manager of them all. Despite appearing unconvinced with his defensive trio (resorting to his favoured four when trailing at home to Koln last week), Wenger was forced into a tactical reshuffle on Sunday as a result of his star pupil's 'injury' and the result paid dividends, with the hard-working Alex Iwobi, and Danny Welbeck, tucking in, and giving Chelsea no room to thread killer through-balls through the fragile Xhaka-Ramsey pairing.


When you look at big games, and big sides, the inclusion of such players has been a common theme to success over the years, with Sir Alex Ferguson favouring Darren Fletcher and Park Ji Sung to do his side's dirty work. Liverpool utilised Dirk Kuyt in a similar way, as did Roberto Mancini with James Milner in his title-winning Manchester City side. Once upon a time, Arsene Wenger even had his own Milner in the shape of Ray Parlour, a vital cog in his double winners of 1998 and 2002.

Time and time again, Mesut Özil has proved his inability to play wide with a series of ineffectual performances, and though Alexis Sanchez was left on the bench for this particular fixture, his own explosive unpredictability will see him restored to the starting XI by the time the Gunners' next fixture (at home to West Brom) comes around. With both the Chilean and Özil expected to leave the club on free transfers next summer, Wenger could do a lot worse than beginning to plan for their departures, with Ramsey the natural heir to the German's throne, and their freed up wage bill spent on some proper defensive midfield reinforcement.


It is perhaps a damning indictment of the scant need for a 'Number 10' in modern-day football that not a single club chased the German this summer in the same way of his soon-to-be Bosman counterpart, and though Mesut Özil no doubt has the ability to tear apart the likes of Brighton, Huddersfield, and Bournemouth at the Emirates, when it comes to trips to Old Trafford and the Etihad, dropping Özil is the key to Arsenal's future success.


Jake Gable.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Why Francis Jeffers and Julio Baptista were actually QUITE good


Having snapped up Alexandre Lacazette last week, much has been made of Arsenal's decision to award the Frenchman the "cursed" number 9 shirt.
You may have seen various clickbait-type websites listing articles on why this means the French striker is instantly doomed in North London, but in reality... were those who previously wore this shirt actually that bad?

Let's take a look at the 9 before the #9 who wore the number 9, and examine if his pre-predecessors are REALLY so terrible!




NICOLAS ANELKA



Signed for absolute peanuts (around half a mil' to be precise), the French teenager dislodged all-time top goalscorer Ian Wright from the team, netted a debut winner against Manchester United, and sealed the final goal of the 1998 FA Cup Final, as he, and Arsenal, claimed the double in Wenger's first full season at the club.

Having finished just 1 goal shy of the Premier League Golden Boot the season after, Anelka's agent kicked up a financial stink and the rest is history as 'Le Sulk' went on to become football's biggest club-hopping whore. On talent alone, here was a man that who'd have smashed Wrighty's record - and had he stayed, we'd never have needed some bloke called Thierry.


DAVOR SUKER

Growing up in the 90's, I always had something of a fetish for Suker. The Croat pulled off an outrageous impudent chip over Peter Schmeichel at Euro 96 and then beat Brazilian Ronaldo to the Golden Boot at the 1998 World Cup in France. Signing from Real Madrid, he should have been our fox in the box, the perfect partner for a pacy, young, King Henry.

I feel Suker's time at Arsenal is unfairly remembered. A penalty miss in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final was hardly ideal, but there were flashes of real brilliance, including this effort at Coventry. Suker was a much-needed experienced head during a time of change at Highbury.



FRANCIS JEFFERS

Please don't section me for this, but, Franny Jeffers was a decent striker.
(I can hear the sniggers at the back!)
Having knocked them in for fun at Everton during his teenage years, hopes were high for the English poacher, and a goal every 3 games in his debut season is certainly not the worst of records we'eve ever seen at this football club.
(HELLO Kaba Diawara!)

Jeffers' issue, like so many at London Colney over the years, was more his woeful injury record. But if the jug-eared Scouser (who, by the way, has a glorious England record of 1 cap, 1 goal) had stayed fit, then the goals would have rained in with the likes of Bergkamp and Pires laying up 6-yard box assists on a platter.



JOSE ANTONIO REYES

The Spanish whippet, who had terrorised the Zinedine Zidane-led Galacticos from the left wing for Sevilla, arrived in the January transfer window of 2004. Giving The Invincibles' title push the fresh charge of impetus it needed, the playmaker scored crucial goals for the Gunners, including a debut double over Chelsea in the FA Cup.

Before becoming homesick and wishing to depart home to Spain, mainly on account of the grizzly Neville brothers kicking lumps out of him, Reyes played a key role in the Gunners squad, netting in 6 consecutive league games early in 2004/05 and starting all matches during our run to the 2006 Champions League Final.





JULIO BAPTISTA


Nicknamed 'The Beast' for his brute strength, as Reyes eventually departed for the Bernabeu, Baptista came the other way on a season-long loan. Another who is remembered with negative connotations due to his bulky frame and lack of mobility, it's easy to forget the 4 goals he netted at Anfield, or the double over Tottenham in the League Cup Semi-Final.

At a time when Thierry Henry spent most of his first and final Emirates season on the treatment table, and Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor were both still highly young and inconsistent, Baptista helped carry an Arsenal front-line which was otherwise forced to succumb to the lure of Jeremie Aliadiera.




EDUARDO

It perhaps tells how much of a large shadow he cast over all future Arsenal strikers, that this is the 5th mention of Thierry Henry. Arriving in summer 2007 to replace the club's biggest ever legend, Eduardo always had his work cut out. But what followed was promising, as the Croatian started to bang them in from all angles, looking like the most natural finisher we'd had at the club in a decade.

You don't need me, or Martin Johnson, to tell you what happened next. And unfortunately, he was never the same player. Once more, an Arsenal #9 robbed by injury, as opposed to a lack of talent.




PARK CHU YOUNG

Okay. I've got no defence for this one. To be fair to the lad, he scored on his debut with a classy finish against Bolton, but overall, one of the most baffling signings ever.




LUKAS PODOLSKI

A firm fan favourite thanks to his jackhammer left foot and incessant social media mocking of Tottenham, Poldi's stay in Ashburton Grove was short lived, with only 2 seasons under his belt in a red shirt. The German hit double figures in his first season and averaged close to 1 in 2 thereafter, with piledrivers against West Ham and Southampton both living long in the memory.

Despite not fulfilling Arsene Wenger's requirements defensively, few can deny the fact Podolski had real quality and was one of the most supremely talented players to have pulled on the shirt in recent years. Now plying his trade for Vissel Kobe in Japan, 49 goals in 130 appearances for Germany points towards a pretty nifty player.



LUCAS PEREZ

The second 'LP' to pull on the #9 in a row, this particular Lucas has been maltreated at Arsenal to the point where the writing now seems on the wall for the nippy Spaniard. Having been cast aside to the number #28 shirt to accommodate the arrival of Lacazette, the former Deportivo striker, who hit 17 league goals in 2015/16, just can't seem to get any game time.

Despite a debut brace, and a Champions League hat-trick, Perez found himself grounded to the Arsenal bench last season, despite scoring or assisting every time he played. Another not short on talent, my own personal preference would be to keep the Spaniard at the expense of the rapidly rotting Theo Walcott.




How many of the former Arsenal number 9's do you hold in high regard?

And how do you think Alexandre Lacazette will fare at the Emirates?

Let us know in the comments below!