Diamonds are a manager’s best friend: a look at the diamond formation

“They say diamonds aren’t forever, but they certainly are for this manager.”

So go the dulcet tones of Alan Smith on FIFA’s hugely popular football simulation game. Such is the rarity of the 4-3-1-2, 4-1-2-1-2 or 4-4-2 (diamond) formation that it has been gifted its very own Worcestershire cliché when deployed on games consoles across the land. Continue reading “Diamonds are a manager’s best friend: a look at the diamond formation”

Alexander Hleb, BATE Borisov’s Belarusian bustling creator

“Arsenal was the best time in my career. I was absolutely, 100% happy. I had an unbelievable coach, fantastic friends and amazing team-mates. It was a dream come true”.

Speaking to FourFourTwo magazine in 2017, Alexander Hleb recalled his time at the North London club as the best of his lengthy career that has taken him from Belarus to London and back again, via Birmingham, Barcelona, Stuttgart, Samara and Ankara.

Now in his fifth spell at BATE Borisov of the industrial city of Barysaw in Belarus, the 37-year-old has had a career like few others, and can probably stake a huge claim to the tag of the greatest footballer from Belarus, of all time.

As the winger prepares to face his old club Arsenal in the Europa League round of 32, we take a look back on Hleb’s career, and reach a decision on how highly he will be remembered in the game…

Continue reading “Alexander Hleb, BATE Borisov’s Belarusian bustling creator”

Apprentice beats master: when Cesc humiliated Vieira at Highbury

By Andrew Misra

The giant, round Champions League flag ripples between its legion of bearers in the centre circle just as the excitement does amongst the crowd of 35,472 fans. The familiar anthem by Tony Britten begins and the breaths of many around the world habitually grow slower and deeper just for a second. Then the heart rates raise as the shiny metallic Handel inspired majesty builds purposefully towards its crescendo. And then they raise.

Die Meister. Die Besten. Les grandes équipes. The champions.

Continue reading “Apprentice beats master: when Cesc humiliated Vieira at Highbury”

Inside Bloomfield Road: what’s happening with the Blackpool boycotts?

By Joe Davies

It is a rare thing in football that an away support outnumbers the home fans in a stadium. As I failed to establish the chant ‘Woah Lacazette-y, Aubameyang’ (to the tune of Black Betty), it occurred to me that without a home chorus to contend with the incentive for away fans to stand up and sing is dampened somewhat. While Gooners have been criticised for their lack of home atmosphere since the ‘Highbury Library’ days, you really could hear your own voice echo as Arsenal beat Blackpool 3-0 at Bloomfield Road. The magic of the FA Cup this was not.

Continue reading “Inside Bloomfield Road: what’s happening with the Blackpool boycotts?”

Samir Nasri: the football equivalent of a tub of marmite

What are your thoughts on marmite? The answer is most probably one of ‘yes, I absolutely love marmite!’ or ‘no, I despise marmite and never want the displeasure of having to eat it in my life!’ Not many things continue to divide opinion quite like marmite, except that Yanny and Laurel thing of summer 2018, or that strange dress that was either white and gold or blue and black.

Continue reading “Samir Nasri: the football equivalent of a tub of marmite”

Why are two-footed players so rare and does it really matter?

By Andrew Misra

Sports psychology aside, football is a game predominantly played with your feet. Cheers, Geoff. But really, most of the time it’s predominantly played with one foot. Go to the nearest recreational football ground at the weekend and this will become abundantly clear not just visually, but verbally too.

The right-back tracking the tricky opposition left winger will routinely be told to “show them onto their right”. Continue reading “Why are two-footed players so rare and does it really matter?”

Advent Day 12 – Thierry Henry, the return of the king

By Joe Davies

On the 6th of January 2012, Arsenal’s record top goal scorer returned to North London on loan to cover for Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho who were at the African Cup of Nations. Unable to take his old number 14 shirt, occupied by Theo Walcott since his departure, Thierry Henry opted for the number 12 he had won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships with for France. Arguably the greatest player to have ever played in the Premier League, TiTi left Arsenal for brighter pastures at Barcelona, but returned a crowd favourite and self-confessed fan of the club.

Continue reading “Advent Day 12 – Thierry Henry, the return of the king”