Posts Tagged ‘Ashley Cole’

You know those pages on Facebook that clog up your news feeds? Annoying aren’t they. Usually pointless advertising and spamming of my own personal social media space (an oxymoron if ever there was one), however in amongst the adverts making me feel inadequate about my manhood (why these are on a Fifa banter page, god only knows) but one fan asked a question that got me thinking, ‘Who is the best left back in the Premier League?’

Firstly let me say, Ashley Cole is not going to be considered because my twenty year plan to make Cheryl Cole/Tweedy my wife will be ruined if she reads this article about what a wonderful left back he is/was.

Jose Enrique appears to be one of the bargains of the season so far at £6 million, with the Spaniard being key in Liverpool only conceding 18 Premier League goals this season, which is only bettered by Manchester City (16). The former Newcastle United player has defended with maturity and attacked with force, encompassing everything the modern day full back is about, however Enrique is yet to make his international debut which is surprising given his form and Spain’s supposed shortage at left back.

Leighton Baines, arguably the most consistent left back over the last two years or so which has started to earn the defender recognition at international level. The former Wigan Athletic man has an attribute that hasn’t been seen in a left back since Roberto Carlos and that is his ability from dead ball situations, which has proved invaluable to Everton with the likes of Louis Saha making Emile Heskey look prolific.

Neil Taylor has been one of several positives from the Premier League new boys Swansea this year, the Welsh outfit have been a great addition to the world’s best league. The Wales international has it all, the pace, the calmness when under pressure and the attacking tendencies; admittedly at 22 the former Wrexham defender isn’t the complete package but given a season or two at the top level and rumours such as the ones linking him with Arsenal will, no doubt be a common occurrence.

Admittedly I started this article thinking there were going to be five or six decent left backs but clearly I’m mistaken.

Overall, you can’t overlook consistency and Baines has been a solid performer for two seasons now. Although the Englishman may not have the Spanish flair or the ability to reach the levels Neil Taylor can, at the moment you can’t look past the Everton man.

Let me know who you think is the best or just give me advice on how to make Cheryl Cole mine on Twitter @DanielTBlazer

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Arsenal have had a pretty good recent track record with left backs, with Ashley Cole going on to become arguably the best left back in the world at the moment and Gael Clichy (perhaps excluding this season) has been one of the best Premier League players in his position over recent seasons. Throughout this period, Arsenal fans have been promised an up-and-coming England starlet who will go on to make the Arsenal left back position his own, for years to come, just like Nigel Winterburn; as of yet the Gunners faithful are still waiting for Kieran Gibbs to really make that permanent break through into the starting eleven though, but why?

Gibbs has suffered more injuries than most for someone so young; in the 2009-10 season he broke his metatarsal against Standard Liege, sidelining him for the season. The injury couldn’t have been timed worst for the young Gunner, just as Clichy was out for a several weeks and Gibbs had begun to make the left back spot his own.

The young Englishman has made forty starting appearances for Arsenal since 2007 and has shown throughout this period that he has the pace, intelligence, anticipation and technique to become a great footballer; surely now, with injuries behind him and Clichy’s form and commitment being criticised on a regular basis, it is time for Wenger to do what he does so well, and give the ‘Young Guns’ a chance. Which begs the question as to why Le Professeur hasn’t used the Englishman frequently, as of yet?

Perhaps it is because, on a couple of occasions over the seasons, Kieran Gibbs has lacked certain elements of an experienced professional. I’m referring to Gibbs’ costly slip-up against Manchester United in the Champions League in 2009; admittedly errors are still part of even the most experienced pro’s game, but it is their ability to not let such things effect their whole game which separates them from the rest. Yet a clearly distraught Gibbs was substituted at half time, showing an inability to cope which may cross Wenger’s mind whenever playing Gibbs, however, surely it is playing the Englishman that boosts confidence and allows for the player’s development in such scenarios?

At the age of 21, Gibbs will soon be approaching his prime as a footballer, and with the continual transfer circus surrounding the last Invincible, Clichy, Gibbs will no doubt be thrust into the limelight should his team mate move onto pastures new, and this time I’m sure he will swim.

The Premier League has given us Cantona, Ginola and Beckham who ultimately we all love no matter who they kicked in World Cup ’98. It has also thrown up the likes of Kevin Davies, Duncan Ferguson and Vinnie Jones, not loathed as much as the ones who made my ‘Dirty XI’ but would certainly make another football fans.

I have ignored the ones with silly haircuts, poor fashion sense or the ones who wouldn’t look out of place in a boy band. What’s left is the not very good, the bad and the ugly.

Disagree with me? Follow me on Twitter and tell me who would make your ‘Most hated eleven’

Craig Bellamy

Dubbed ‘The Nutter with the Putter’ by the media, after allegedly beating up, then, Liverpool team-mate John Arne Riise with a golf club, is one of many reasons for Craig Bellamy being on the list. The Welsh international lack of popularity in the game stems from his confrontational style of play, which may be the reason that Bellamy finds himself at his 8th club in the last decade.

Jens Lehmann

Reminds me of that kid in the playground trying to be cool and ‘hard’;when you’re 6 years old it is cute but when your German, old and slightly eccentric its not. Lehmann had a comical run in with Didier Drogba that wouldn’t have looked out of place with the Benny Hill theme tune playing in the background. Lehmann always seemed to take offence to anyone who felt they could be in ‘his’ box and for that reason he just generally antagonised anyone that was brave enough to enter.

John Terry

Doesn’t he know the guy code? ‘Bro’s before Ho’s.’ Cheating on your wife with your friend’s ex girlfriend doesn’t exactly do a lot for team moral. Ignoring Terry’s off the field issues, don’t you just think the guy is *enter any word you feel appropriate.*

Emmanuel Adebayor

Enjoyed a successful beginning with the Arsenal faithful, with many believing the Togolese international was heir to Thierry Henry’s throne. However following pay-rise demands, ‘hit and miss performances’ and then joining ‘top four’ rivals Manchester City, it is safe to say that Arsenal fans now despise Adebayor but this wasn’t enough for the striker. To guarantee he wouldn’t receive a Christmas card from his former employers, the Togo captain stamped on Robin Van Persie and ran the entire length of the Eastlands pitch to celebrate his goal for new club Manchester City, in front of the Arsenal away fans. I think they call that excessive banter.

Gary Neville

Spent his entire career at Manchester United, a club fans love to hate and seeing as Neville captained the Red Devils it doesn’t help him stay out of lists like this, but his arrogance and strong opinions combined with running 40 yards across the Old Trafford pitch to celebrate a Manchester United winner against Liverpool right in front of the visiting fans probably has a lot to do with his appearance.

El Haji Diouf

El Hadji Diouf feeds off his reputation as the villain of the Premier League. Diouf constantly seems to rile up opposition fans for his own amusement. The Senegalese forward does have one absolutely disgusting habit that warrants his place on this list in its own right, sending phlegm bombs at whomever he sees fit, most notably Celtic fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The 2008 World and European Footballer of the Year but that doesn’t stop him being total ‘winker.’ Unanimously hated by the English faithful for his part in Rooney’s sending off in the 2006 World Cup. I feel however the reason he warrants such a high place on the list is because of his tendency for going to ground like a ‘fairy’ and his sarcastic clapping of referees when decisions don’t go his way, such behaviour easily warrants three yellow cards of Graham Poll.

Joey Barton

Cannot escape controversy no matter what team he moves to. A one-man controversy magnet who finds enemies in team-mates, opposition and fans alike. Barton’s style of play numerously over steps the mark, resulting in countless disciplinary issues but Barton’s standout discrepancy has to be the moment of pure madness when he lit a cigar in the eye of Manchester City youth player Jamie Tandy.

Lee Bowyer

The man who holds the title of most Premier League bookings was always going to be here but just in case Bowyer was worried he would miss out, he decided to fight a team-mate during a game. Ok Mr Bowyer your wish is granted, Number 3. Happy?

Robbie Savage

You all knew he would be here; you just kept waiting to see how high. No explanation needed.

Ashley Cole

Moved to Chelsea from Arsenal surrounded by a huge ‘tapping up’ scandal and although the England international doubled his bank account, his reputation took a battering. Cole didn’t help matters though was a now infamous excerpt from his autobiography, in which he admits he “almost crashed [his] car” after being told Arsenal would only be paying him £55,000 per week. This line of pure greed earnt Cole the nickname ‘Cashley.’ The man is a walking PR disaster and after cheating on the ‘national treasure’ that is Cheryl Tweedy, Cole well an truly deserves his place on the list.

Substitutes: Martin Keown (one of those faces), Roy Keane (the list is endless), Didier Drogba (has an A level in moaning), Dennis Wise (dirty little…) and William Gallas (cry baby)

Arsenal have in recent weeks imploded, crashing out of three major trophies in the space of a few days. I wonder how different things would have been if managers of Arsenal’s past and present had held onto a few of these players for a little while longer.

Jay Bothroyd

From throwing his Arsenal shirt at the bench to picking up his first England cap, is quite a journey for Cardiff’s inspirational striker. Robin Van Persie prolific on his day but injury prone, coupled with Marouane Chamakh and the man the fans love to hate in Nicklas Bendtner leaves the Arsenal following craving other days. Days when Ian Wright Wright Wright and Henry scored for fun. Bothroyd’s stats, for this season alone, 33 appearances with 18 goals, are impressive; coupled with a maturity at 28 that means he keeps his shirt on. Perhaps this is one that Wenger let ‘slip through the net.’

Alexander Hleb

The answer to Robert Pires. The Belarusian was a fan’s favourite with his abundance of tricks, nimble footwork and the anticipation that something might always happen with the ball at his feet. Although I consider Samir Nasri to be of the same mould as Hleb; It is clear that Nasri and Fabregas do not compliment one another in that attacking midfield line. However, Hleb had it in his ‘armour’ to allow Fabregas to have the commanding midfield role that he so loves.

Sol Campbell

Big Sol left the Emirates with Wenger, like many others, predicting the centre back would move abroad. Campbell surprisingly though, moved down to the south coast and joined Portsmouth. Sol’s time at the club was very successful, leading Pompey to a FA Cup final victory in 2008. How useful Sol’s experience, leadership qualities and obvious knack for winning trophies (this was his third FA cup winners medal) could have been to an Arsenal side, that with every fixture that passes, look more and more likely to end a seventh season with an empty trophy cabinet.

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst

Left Arsenal after being deemed surplus to requirements and joined Spanish giants Barcelona. During his time at Barcelona Gio won two La Liga titles and the Champions League in 2006 beating Arsenal 2-1 in the final. Enough said really.

William Gallas

Everyone agreed with ‘Le Professeur’ that it was time for William Gallas to move on; with such a dramatic fall from grace as captain combined with his reported disruptive influence in the changing room. Fans and players alike were pleased to see the back of the fiery Frenchman. Fast forward six months and Arsenal’s unpredictable back line has single handedly destroyed the Gunners quadruple chances in the space of a fortnight. Over the other side of North London William Gallas is being worshipped. Gallas’ Champions League experience, regaining of form and formidable partnership with Michael Dawson has been instrumental in Tottenham’s success in challenging the ‘big boys’ in the league and in Europe. How much Wenger would love to partner Laurent Koscielny alongside an experienced centre back and add some stability to Arsenal’s back line.

Robert Pires

The ‘flat footed’ Frenchman fell foul like so many before him to Wenger’s policy of only offering players over thirty one year contacts. Pires in his time at Arsenal scored 62 goals in 189 appearances a remarkable record for a midfielder. Arsenal still haven’t replaced the free-scoring and influential midfielder who would be vital to an Arsenal team that so often in recent times fail to kill off games that they dominate. Only Robin Van Persie is in double figures for league goals this season.

Patrick Vieira

Went on to represent Juventus, Inter Milan and now Manchester City clearly the powerful Frenchman still had a lot to offer the footballing giants of the game. The sale of Patrick Vieira has left an ever present void in the middle of the park for Arsenal. Gone are the days when the Gunners would dominate the midfield battles with a bit of good old fashioned steel and determination. Twinned with Vieira’s leadership qualities, Arsenal could very much use Vieira to help boost and motivate a deflated and weary looking Arsenal side.

Nicolas Anelka

Since leaving Arsenal Nicolas Anelka has scored an impressive 126 goals in 370 appearances for numerous clubs, won six major trophies in four different countries and won the Premier League golden boot. Throw in the fact Anelka has scored against Arsenal on numerous occasions since leaving and then only a fool would not want the talented Frenchman in an Arsenal that has failed to replace Thierry Henry’s goalscoring ability for nearly four years.

Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole left Arsenal in controversial circumstances due to off the field matters. However, when you take into account Cole’s ability on the pitch you can understand, but not agree, with Chelsea breaking several ‘FA laws’ in the signing of the England international. Kieran Gibbs is being dubbed ‘the next Ashley Cole’ but it would be so much better if it were the real Ashley Cole, bombing down the left wing non-stop for 90 minutes. Admittedly all ‘The Sun’ readers will disagree with my choice of Ashley Cole because ‘we all love Cheryl Tweedy’ but surely the ‘world’s best left back’ should be on the list, regardless.

Andrew Cole

“Andrew Cole played for Arsenal! This good looking, suave and cheeky journalist knows nothing, mate” I know that is what you’re all thinking, however Andrew Cole made one competitive substitute appearance for Arsenal before being sold to Second Division Bristol City for £500,000. Arguably the biggest mistake in Premiership transfer history, so far. Cole amassed 187 Premier League goals, a feat only topped by Alan Shearer. If only George Graham kept hold of the future second highest Premier League goalscorer, it would have been Arsenal fans singing “Andy Cole, Andy Cole, Andy Andy Cole, he gets the ball, and scores a goal, Andy Andy Cole.”