Top flight: My published articles for premierleague.com


In August 2012, I secured a full-time placement as Digital Operations Assistant at the Premier League. The role has mostly included editorial work, image editing and website content management, but it has also allowed me to write a series of articles and photo galleries for the site. The links for some of my articles are below:

Premierleague.com Photo Galleries:
19th March: Owen announces retirement at end of season
1st March: Manchester United in lead as ‘ever-presents’ reach 800 mark
7th February: Carragher to call time on Liverpool career

4th February: Ten out of ten for freescoring Lampard

Facebook Photo Galleries:
Fantasy Premier League picks – Gameweek 29
The ‘800 club’ – ever-present Premier League clubs
Premier League players spread festive cheer
Man United v Arsenal – classic matches

Premier League articles:
24th March: Paul Lambert relishing the challenge at Villa
16th March: Man Utd close in on Spurs
15th March: Great Escapes: How Premier League clubs beat the drop
11th February: Chelsea trio help Nigeria win African Cup of Nations

11th February: Giggs: ‘Man City seven-goal thriller topped the lot’
6th February: Premier League stars set for international duty
5th February: Manchester City can call upon history for hope in title race
4th February: Little margin for error if Manchester United wish to set record
18th December: Five-star Southampton reach Elite Group Stage
2nd December: Tough FA Cup trips for Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal
2nd November: Arsenal aiming to improve poor Old Trafford record

19th October: Making Suarez captain pays off for FPL manager
15th October: Saints back on top
10th September: Saints and Fulham shine
5th September: Michu top of Fantasy Premier League chart
31st August: Capital One Cup – Liverpool draw West Brom
30th August: Liverpool claim first U21 win at Palace
15th August: New fantasy player trading game launched
3rd August: Fans flock to Barclays U21 Premier League debut

From the start of 2013, we also began to delve through the Premier League archives to find the most memorable moments in the division’s history as part of a regular ‘On this day’ feature. I have written most of the ‘On this day’ articles, and extensively researched significant matches, transfers, managerial appointments and landmarks so we have a detailed database for the feature going forward.

You can find the links for individual articles on the ‘On this day’ holding pages below:
On this day: January
On this day: February
On this day: March

Click here for the home page of the official Premier League website.

Giggs: ‘Anfield was the toughest place to visit’

Ryan Giggs said Arsenal's Lee Dixon was always a tough opponent

Ryan Giggs said Arsenal’s Lee Dixon was always a tough opponent

On Tuesday night attendances at Barclays Premier League matches broke the 250 million barrier. To commemorate this milestone, premierleague.com invited its Twitter followers to ask a question of Ryan Giggs, the only player still playing in the Barclays Premier League who also featured when the first fans filed through the turnstiles for the competition’s inaugural matchday on Saturday 15 August 1992.

The Manchester United legend, who was voted the Best Player in the Premier League 20 Seasons Awards, answered 10 questions sent by followers of the Premier League’s Twitter account.

@DalisoC: Which trophy are you most proud of winning?

Ryan Giggs: I think the trophy I am most proud of is probably the first Premiership [1992/93]. Growing up as a United fan and obviously not winning it for so long, for me, coming so close the year before and losing out to Leeds was really disappointing so when we did eventually win it, the excitement and the relief and the pressure was off a little bit. It was probably the foundation to go on and win many things so I would probably rank that as my favourite.

@shanekels: Which three players from the Premier League era would you have with you in your midfield?

Giggs: I think the two midfielders that stand out are [Paul Scholes] Scholesy and [Roy Keane] Keaney, the year we won the treble. And then it would be close to [David Beckham] Becks and Cristiano [Ronaldo] but what Cristiano has done in the last couple of years probably just pips him. In my view, along with [Lionel] Messi, he’s the world’s best player. So, I wouldn’t mind being in that midfield, if I can get in!

@Ali_Alex_MUFC: If you could go back to any of your previous seasons, which one would it be and why?

Giggs: I think the treble-winning season. It was just such a rollercoaster season and [we had] three cup finals in 10 days; obviously winning the league first of all, then the FA Cup and going on to win the Champions League in the manner that we did. It was just like the season really. Those 10 days were like a rollercoaster, so that was probably the feeling and feat that you don’t often get.

@SiHanTheGoonerWhich team do you always look forward to playing the most?

Giggs: I think as a player you want a challenge, so any of the top teams really. I would probably say Liverpool, because there is always such a great build-up. It doesn’t matter how the teams are doing in the league, there’s always that rivalry and there’s always that ferocious tempo within the game, whether it be at Old Trafford or Anfield.

@amatan: In your opinion, what was your best game in the #BPL?

Giggs: I’m struggling with that one! I think I would have to say the City game, the 4-3 [against Manchester City in September 2009]. I set up a few goals and – the way the game went, obviously passing to Michael [Owen] to score the winner – that was a great game.

@Minion786: How does it feel to be playing alongside the youth players knowing you were starting for Man United before they could walk?

Giggs: [Laughs] I got used to the fact a long time ago that I am playing with someone who wasn’t born when I made my debut and all these sort of things that come up. So, yeah, I have just got used to it. It’s something I have got to live with, I suppose.

@Nookums69: What is your favourite goal that you did not score?

Giggs: I’d say Wayne’s overhead kick [Rooney against Manchester City, February 2011] or maybe Becks’s from the halfway line [David Beckham against Wimbledon, August 1996].

(After being asked if he’s tried to emulate either goal) It wasn’t the same as Becks’s but at Charlton away I hit the crossbar [in December 2000]. So I nearly scored from the halfway line but Wayne’s, no, I haven’t come close!

@deba1993Which stadium has the most daunting atmosphere?

Giggs: I think Anfield. Like I said before, no matter how the teams are doing there is always a great atmosphere. You could be playing against an average Liverpool team and it would still be one of the toughest games of the season, just because the crowd drive them on and the tradition between the two clubs.

@maestrofmhellWho is the one defender who gave you nightmares?

Giggs: I think Lee Dixon was always tough to play against, especially at Highbury where it was a tight pitch and it was that famous back four and [David] Seaman [in goal]. It was always tough to find that bit of space, which normally I can find but he had that experience, knowing whether to go tight or whether to come off, and it was always a test to play against him.

I edited and transcribed this audio Q & A as part of a feature on Premierleague.com. You can listen to the interview below:

Gallery: Premier League Player Profiles

As part of my role within the Premier League’s Digital Operations team, I have sourced and edited images for all player profiles this season.  I have also been editing information within player and club profiles. Here is a selection of some of the best images to date:

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Chelsea target Luke Shaw and three other young Saints to watch

Chelsea are reportedly lining up a £4m bid for Luke Shaw

Chelsea are reportedly lining up a £4m bid for Luke Shaw

There has been no shortage of top class talent coming through the Southampton academy in recent years, with Arsenal & England wingers Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tottenham’s former PFA player of the year Gareth Bale and former Chelsea full back Wayne Bridge developing their game on the South Coast. It’s no surprise then that Champions League winners Chelsea have been strongly linked with Southampton’s latest wonderkid Luke Shaw.

The national press are linking Chelsea with a £4million bid for Shaw, and Manchester City and Arsenal have also reportedly expressed an interest, but it will take something special for Southampton to relinquish one of their brightest young talents. Manager Nigel Adkins and chairman Nicola Cortese have insisted that he is not for sale and, as one of the richest clubs in English football following a takeover by the late Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr in 2009, there is no pressure for the club to sell – especially as they are back in the Premier League after seven years outside the top flight.

But can the 16-year-old attacking left back be the next Gareth Bale or make the same sort if impact that Alex Chamberlain did at Arsenal 12 months on? Here is a lowdown on Shaw’s star potential and three other Southampton youth players to watch out or over the next few seasons.

Luke Shaw

There is no doubt that 16-year-old Luke Shaw is the most sought-after player in Southampton’s latest generation of talented players at the moment. And, despite only making one senior appearance for Saints last season, it is clear to see why the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City want to snap him up now before he bursts on to the professional scene with a string of first team games.

He has been a regular in Jason Dodd’s Under-18 side since the age of 15, and his rapid progression through the youth ranks was rewarded with two call ups to the England Under-16’s team in 2011. He is now a regular in the Under-17’s international team, having made 8 appearances.

Shaw is an attacking full back with bundles of pace, good set piece delivery and an eye for goal, having scored three times from left back in Southampton’s successful Under-18 side, and he’s been promoted to the first team squad ahead of Saints’ comeback season in the Premier League.

He featured in the Saints squad in Cup matches against Coventry, Preston North End and Millwall last season and he will undoubtedly want to follow in the footsteps of Tottenham star Gareth Bale and former England international Wayne Bridge by making a name for himself on the left side of Southampton’s defence.

James Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse

Arguably Southampton most impressive academy graduate of the 2011-12 campaign was 17-year-old central midfielder James Ward-Prowse, who was subsequently awarded Young Player of the Year at the club’s end of season celebrations.  Also an England Under-17 international, Ward-Prowse made two starts for the senior team and he impressed on both occasions. Despite Saints being defeated in the last 16 of the Carling Cup, thanks to two late goals from Crystal Palace, Ward-Prowse earned praise from Southampton boss Nigel Adkins for his composed performance in the middle of the park. He scored his first senior goal in a 2-1 win over Coventry in the FA Cup and featured on the bench on a few occasions.

He’s quite small I stature, but he makes up for it with great energy and a superb passing range. His composure and ability to recycle possession certainly helps him fit in to Southampton’s style of play, and he is probably the most likely academy player to break in to the first team frequently this season.

Calum Chambers

Calum Chambers

Calum Chambers

Along with Shaw, Ward-Prowse and former Plymouth youngster Jack Stephens, Calum Chambers was also promoted to the first team squad after Saints gained promotion to the Premier League in April.

He’s another exciting talent, and another player who features in the England Under-17 set up, but he still seems to have crept in to Nigel Adkins’ long-term first team plans under the radar, as he is the only academy graduate in Saints’ first team who didn’t feature in the first team last season.

He’s a tall and talented winger who offers great creativity and a quality final product going forward. He featured regularly in Southampton’s Under-18’s team that finished ahead of the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea in the FA Premier League Academy Group A and contributed seven goals from out wide. He also scored the only goal in England Under-17’s 1-0 win over Ukraine in March, and has added a further two goals in just 6 appearances for the side.

Jake Sinclair

Jake Sinclair

Jake Sinclair

Every good team needs a clinical goal scorer, and the Southampton Under-18s talisman last season was 17-year-old forward Jake Sinclair. Brother of Swansea striker Scott Sinclair, Jake banged in 25 goals in 29 appearances last term – an impressive record at any level. Much like his brother, he’s got pace to burn, he’s tricky, likes to run with the ball and is a clinical finisher. There are Premier League goals in his family already, and Jake has the potential to follow in his brother’s footsteps and score goals at a high level.

He’s not gained the same sort of recognition at international level as his academy team-mates Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse and Calum Chambers, but a strong season with the academy and Under-21 development squad could encourage Saints boss Adkins to call on the pacey forward for cup matches in the upcoming campaign.

Southampton vs Reading: 4 Key Battles That Could Decide The Title Race

Premier League football will be all but confirmed for the winner of Southampton vs Reading this weekend, and the match is sure to live up to its billing.

Championship leaders Southampton take on nearest rivals Reading at St. Mary’s Stadium this evening in a clash that could all but confirm Premier League promotion if one of these sides emerge victorious. Both sides lie six points ahead of heavy pre-season title favourites West Ham United with four games remaining and – with the lucrative goldmine of Premier League football, jobs, star players and all important momentum in jeopardy for one of these sides – here are the key battles that could mean Reading or Southampton have one hand on the football league’s top prize.

Rickie Lambert vs Kaspars Gorkss

Saints have had the most lethal strike force in the Championship season and Reading have the tightest defence, so one of those must surely give for this crunch match. Saints have been in the top two from day one this season, and a catalyst for this sustained streak of superb form has been down to Liverpool-born hit man Rickie Lambert, who has netted 26 times in the league this season, nine more than any other striker.

The all-important role of keeping Lambert quiet may rest on the shoulders of Latvian centre-back Kaspars Gorkss, who has helped Reading form the meanest defence of the division since his arrival in August. Since the turn of the year, Reading have won 14 matches compared to Saints’ 10 and, while they haven’t had one prolific goalscorer in the side, they have shared the goals evenly amongst the frontmen and ground out some crucial slender victories to maintain their fantastic form.

Jos Hooiveld vs Jason Roberts

At the other end of the pitch this evening, a big part of Reading’s attacking threat will form in the powerful frame of 33-year-old striker Jason Roberts. BBC pundit Roberts has caused a big stir in the media since arriving from Premier League strugglers Blackburn in January, and he has proven to be a revelation for the Royals. Eight consecutive wins after his arrival really ignited Reading’s automatic promotion charge. He’s a good finisher, a powerful target man and his years of Premier League experience have been invaluable for the club.

Saints put behind a tough turn of the year with a significant improvement in the side’s defensive performances. Central defensive pairing Jos Hooiveld and Jose Fonte have been vital, and it is towering Dutchman Hooiveld who I would say is best placed to deal with Roberts’ physical and aerial presence. But both defenders have been superb this season, and they will have to be at their best to keep out a confident Reading side.

Danny Fox vs Ian Harte

In such a massive game, the set piece delivery and crossing from full-backs is crucial, and the key for both sides making the breakthrough from set plays comes from left back. Southampton’s Danny Fox has contributed an outstanding 11 assists during his first Championship campaign on the south coast. Fox’s delivery from corners and indirect free-kicks has been quality throughout the season and, while Rickie Lambert is likely to be first choice from shooting range, Fox could be key to breaching the Reading rear-guard.

In blue and white, former Leeds full-back Ian Harte has been a big success. Perhaps more of a threat from shooting range with 14 goals in Reading colours since his arrival in 2010, Harte proved his importance in the side with a vital winner against Brighton on Tuesday night.

Steve De Ridder scored a late equaliser as Saints and Reading drew 1-1 earlier this season

Steve De Ridder scored a late equaliser as Saints and Reading drew 1-1 earlier this season

Adam Lallana vs Jimmy Kebe

In a game like this, both managers would look towards their main playmakers to produce something special – a bit of magic that could be the difference in a tight, tense encounter. In terms of quality that could be crucial in making that difference tonight, you don’t need to look much further than Saints’ Adam Lallana and Reading’s Jimmy Kebe.

Kebe, predominantly a winger with pace and power to terrorise Championship full-backs had a slow start to the season but he has certainly turned it round, scoring a few goals and providing a big threat on the right hand side. The Mali international scored twenty goals from out wide in his first two campaigns under manager Brian McDermott’s stewardship, and you wouldn’t be against him causing Saints problems at St. Mary’s this evening.

Nigel Adkins has described 23-year-old Adam Lallana as the most talented player in the Championship this season, and it is hard to argue otherwise. Lallana was nominated for the Championship player of the year, which Lambert won, and there is no doubt that the team look significantly stronger and more creative with him in the starting line-up. He has scored ten goals this season, but it is his movement, eye for an incisive pass and superb technical skill that has proved vital for the Saints this season, and he is definitely one to watch out for in front of the Sky Sports cameras at 19:45.

First vs second, the best home record against the best away side and the highest scorers against the league’s meanest defence; Southampton versus Reading has all the right ingredients to live up to its billing and have a huge say in the destination of the 2011/12 Championship title. Who fancies a drab 0-0?!

This feature was published in the Sabotage Times. Click here for the link.

Howe to become a legend: Eddie leaves Bournemouth as a hero

Eddie Howe became a fans' favourite after his Bournemouth heroics

Eddie Howe became a fans’ favourite after his Bournemouth heroics

At first the AFC Bournemouth fans will have felt angry and bemused as to why Eddie Howe departed days after he temporarily committed his future to the club, but there is no need for an apology as Howe masterminded an incredible first taste of management that nobody could have envisaged.

Howe arrived on the managerial scene in January 2009 after an injury-plagued playing career where he earned the tag as a fans’ favourite on the south coast. The future looked bleak for the Cherries. Ongoing financial woes led to administration, a total of 27 points deducted in two seasons and the distinct possibility of relegation from the football league looming large.

Fast forward to January 2011, and he leaves as a hero – reflecting on a wonderful two years that restored hope and pride as they maintained their football league status.

Not only that, Howe’s boys gained promotion from League Two in 2010 with a threadbare squad, and continued to defy the critics again as he left the Cherries breathing down the necks of League One leaders Brighton this season.

The only way has been up for Eddie Howe and assistant boss Jason Tindall. Their achievements have been nothing short of incredible. Since Howe took over the reigns, Bournemouth have won 50 out of 100 games, and have done this without being able to field a full substitutes bench for much of the process.

Veteran striker Steve Fletcher, who now takes over Tindall’s duties as assistant manager, has enjoyed a resurgence of form under Howe’s stewardship, and scored the last goal of his tenure before two late goals denied Howe a fitting send off against Colchester.

Howe and Tindall rescued Bournemouth from the brink of League Two relegation

Howe and Tindall rescued Bournemouth from the brink of League Two relegation

Danny Hollands, dogged with knee problems in recent years, fought through the pain barrier to play a key role in the promotion season in League Two and has continued his progress. Clever acquisitions like winger Marc Pugh, Tottenham loanee Adam Smith and former Norwich full back Rhoys Wiggins have been masterstrokes – and those are the type of masterstrokes that Howe continued to pull off in a three-year spell dogged by financial obstacles.

But now he and Tindall have gained their deserved chance at Championship big boys Burnley, and they have every chance of succeeding and making their excellent man-management rub off on the new set of players. Even though the pair are six years younger than Burnley’s oldest workhorse Graham Alexander, they will certainly have the dressing room’s backing, and their previous record shows no reason why they can’t inspire promotion to the Premier League.

Of course, management duo Howe and Tindall have spent the majority of their playing days at Bournemouth, so making the step up to a new division and a new team will have its challenges. Chairmen are more fickle than ever in the modern game, and time to settle is a rare luxury, so the pair will need to adjust to life in the Championship quickly and have a solid six months to secure their futures. But the man management, the desire and the application is something that won’t go away, and if they have every tool in their armoury to produce the goods and be the youngest Managerial duo in the Premier League.

Battling Burnley put the Blades to the sword

Wade Elliott fires Burnley in to the Premier League

Wade Elliott fires Burnley in to the Premier League

BURNLEY entered Premier League dreamland as a stunning Wade Elliot strike beat Sheffield United in the Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley to secure a return to the top flight after 33 years.

Elliot charged with the ball from inside his own half and curled home from 30 yards after a break down in play to give his side the lead after thirteen minutes. And the Clarets could have been home and dry as Joey Gudjohnsson, Robbie Blake and Martin Paterson went close in the second half.

Owen Coyle’s men survived late pressure from United, who had two penalty appeals turned down before Jamie Ward was sent off after a deliberate handball, but nothing could stop Burnley from taking a deserved 1-0 win.

In their sixtieth game of the season, Burnley, who have fewer resources than most in the Championship, defied the odds to overturn the in-form Blades, who made a late charge for automatic promotion before narrowly falling short.

Burnley were the livelier for much of the Wembley Final, and held off any late pressure with a heroic performance from centre-back pairing Clarke Carlisle and captain Steven Caldwell.

Coyle has only used 23 players all season, the fewest out of any Championship team, and reached the Carling Cup semi-final in a remarkable campaign for the Lancashire Club, who defeated a quarter of the Premier League elite this term.

Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal were all defeated by the Clarets, who were within touching distance of the Carling Cup Final as they cancelled out a three goal deficit against Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor to force extra time.

Two late knockout blows from Roman Pavlychenko and Jermaine Defoe ensured they wouldn’t make another Wembley appearance.

But despite the fixture congestion Burnley finished fifth in the league and, through two spectacular efforts from Paterson and Steven Thompson, sealed a 2-0 second leg win and a 3-0 aggregate Play-Off semi-final victory over Reading.

Their exploits in the cup competitions gave the team the confidence and belief that they could do it again on the big stage, and they duly completed their biggest triumph of an eventful season this afternoon.

Even with the third lowest average attendance in the Championship minimal resources, Coyle has made astute signings and masterminded a campaign that few Burnley fans would have dreamed of.

Coyle will, of course, need to strengthen the squad and his managerial qualities will be tested to the full as the club will be favourites for a quick return to the second tier of English Football.

But Turf Moor is sure to be packed week in, week out, as the Lancashire minnows will entertain the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea as they fulfill their dreams of playing in the big time.

Rafa’s Rampant Reds charge back into the title race

Gerrard scores a penalty on the way to a superb hat-trick vs Aston Villa

Gerrard scores a penalty on the way to a superb hat-trick vs Aston Villa

A STEVEN Gerrard hat-trick inspired Liverpool to an emphatic 5-0 victory over Aston Villa to seal a perfect fortnight for Rafael Benitez’s men.

The Red’s cruised past an off form Villa side to take full advantage of Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Fulham yesterday. Dirk Kuyt opened the scoring inside the first ten minutes before Albert Riera fired home off the underside of the bar after latching on to a long kick from Reds keeper Pepe Reina.

The game was out of the visitors’ sight six minutes later, when Gerrard slotted home a controversial penalty after Riera was fouled by Nigel Reo Coker. The Liverpool captain then beat Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel with a fine freekick shortly after the break, and stepped up to complete his hat-trick and his second penalty of the game on the 65 minute mark, when Friedel was harshly dismissed after bringing down Fernando Torres inside the box.

The demolition leaves Liverpool one point behind the leaders, having played a game more. In what could be a pivotal weekend in the destination of the Premier League title, Man United had Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes sent off while Dimitar Berbatov hobbled off with an injury and Chelsea lost 1-0 to a resurgent Tottenham Hotspur.

Benitez’s men, on the other hand, have steamrolled to thirteen goals in a difficult three game period. They comfortably put four past Real Madrid at Anfield before coming from a goal down to complete a sensational 4-1 victory over the League leaders at Old Trafford. Aston Villa came in search for a crucial win to keep their Champions League ambitions alive before being hit for five by the rampant Reds.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are still in the driving seat despite two consecutive league defeats and have the quality and the experience to deliver. But any more slip ups and the Anfield faithful will believe that the search for their first ever Premier League title could come to an end.

Van Persie on the double to keep the Gunners fighting

Robin Van Persie displayed his class with a vital double

Robin Van Persie displayed his class with a vital double

A THREE-MINUTE double-salvo from Robin Van Persie stunned league leaders Chelsea to keep Arsenal’s wilting title hopes alive after a rollercoaster month for Arsene Wenger’s young side.

With the critics continually writing off their title chances and just half an hour to recover a 1-0 deficit against a Chelsea side comfortably on top at the fortress that is Stamford Bridge, Van Persie struck a definitive and highly controversial blow to keep the Premier League ambitions flickering for Wenger’s men.

The striker looked at least a metre offside as he was threaded through by Denilson before rifling the ball into the top corner for an equaliser out of nothing. The comeback was completed when Van Persie (pictured, above) slotted Adebayor’s flick on header brilliantly inside Petr Cech’s far post. The victory summed up a remarkable month for Arsenal and left them seven points behind the Blues at the end of November, with Liverpool and Manchester United also to be caught.

Having beaten Chelsea and the reigning Champions Manchester United on their own patch, it suggests that they have what it takes to compete with the best in the country. But a woeful spell, which saw them concede seven unanswered goals and lose to Aston Villa and Manchester City, has left them with five league defeats against their name already.

While they have been formidable against teams who come to play pretty football, they have been outmuscled and outwitted against teams who have come with a game plan to combat their style. At times this is unbelievable to watch. Teams such as Stoke and Hull, who both inflicted 2-1 defeats on the Gunners, have shown that if they hustle and harry and remain well-disciplined, much of Arsenal’s threat can be extinguished.

So what has gone wrong? After coming within four points of the title last season, Arsenal seem to lack the strength and solidity in the midfield that counteracted many of the more physical sides last season. The key summer departures of Mathieu Flamini and Gilberto Silva have taken away some of the vital steel that supported Arsenal’s lethal attacking armoury. The team have become more reliant on the genius of Cesc Fabregas and youngsters such as Denilson and Alexandre Song Billong packing the midfield. There is a general lack of experience in (the midfield) this area, unlike the other teams in the “Big Four”, Chelsea can boast Frank Lampard; Liverpool have Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes is still on tap at Manchester United.

William Gallas looks dejected after Birmingham disappointment

William Gallas looks dejected after Birmingham disappointment

The leadership in the dressing room at the Emirates has also been well documented. Arsene Wenger stripped William Gallas (pictured above) of his captaincy after an angry outburst at his team mates, questioning the team’s bravery. He quickly appointed 21-year-old Fabregas as the new club captain. There seems to be renewed spirit within the dressing room, and while Gallas took the punishment professionally and played with passion against Chelsea, the unrest may well be one of the contributing factors to several points dropped already this season.

Perhaps under the new leadership, there will become a new sense of direction and A revitalised title challenge. The appointment of the Spaniard Fabregas typifies Wenger’s policy of developing young players into the first team – a system that has worked brilliantly in the Carling Cup.

The young guns, with a combined age of just 19 in their Carling Cup fourth round tie against Wigan, have impressed the country and totally outclassed two very decent opponents, having thrashed Championship side Sheffield United 6-0 in the previous round.

But, with the exceptional young talent being continually drafted into the team, this means that Wenger’s men are lacking the experienced heads and leaders on the pitch that their Big Four rivals have in abundance. There are also questions over the squad’s depth and the stubbornness of Wenger to spend big during the transfer windows.

This fine victory over Chelsea may spark a revival but surely it won’t be too long before Wenger will have to strengthen. The January transfer window could be crucial for their title chances. While the team have prevailed against Manchester United and Chelsea, they continue to slip up against many of the lower ranked “physical” outfits in the Division – with another slip up likely to end any realistic title hopes for another year.

There is little doubt that the Gunners have got one of the most exciting production line of young talent in Europe, but the fans are getting restless, the team continues to drop valuable points and an unthinkable fourth trophyless season could well and truly be on the cards.