One Invincibles season, three titles, seven FA Cups, 20 St Totteringham Days, five Community Shields and a club rebooted and reborn…. I hope the ‘Wenger Out’ brigade is suitably humbled now they have succeeded in running the club’s greatest manager out of town.
Forget Herbert Chapman and your 1930s rose-tinted specs, the classy Frenchman from Strasbourg transformed the Gunners from an old-fashioned club with a destructive drinking culture to a modern, forward-thinking institution in a state-of-the-art stadium.
One great insight and tribute to the man was one of his former players revealing that when the Arsenal boys turned up to England training the Manchester United and Liverpool stars used to try a sneak a peek at what they were eating so they could copy them.
Wenger was an innovator and deserves a statue outside the Emirates – hopefully not one of him struggling to do up that long coat of his!
THE PFA Team of the Year has been announced – David De Gea, Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Jan Vertonghen, Marcos Alonso, David Silva, Christian Eriksen, Kevin De Bruyne, Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero.
You can’t argue with the front three – the Premier League’s trio of top scorers, one champion, a Champions League semi-finalists (at least) and an FA Cup semi- finalist.
De Gea is probably the best keeper in the world but by his sky-high standards this campaign has not been a memorable one, while Ederson has been just as important for City and they have blown their Manchester rivals away in the title race.
Silva is a wonderful player – one of my favourites – but he has not had a stellar season. Understandably off-field troubles with his premature young son Mateo fighting for life have affected him so I’d bring in Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino. I think the Brazilian – 25 goals and 14 assists in all competitions – is the most under-rated player in English football.
Otamendi is the real head-scratcher for me. Yes he is a league winner but his mistakes against Liverpool dumped City out the Champions League and he is so bang average he even disappoints his parents.
Had Virgil van Dijk been at Anfield all season he would have been nailed on, while Newcastle’s young skipper Jamaal Lascelles, 24, and 25-year-old Harry Maguire of Leicester have had cracking campaigns.
Salah beat De Bruyne to be named Player of the Year and if he helps Liverpool win the Champions League Kop fans will demand that be changed to Player of the Decade!
THEY say never make predictions, especially about the future, but where is the fun in that?
Back in August this column forecast Manchester City would be champions mainly because ‘their attacking options are sweeter than a gypsy tart dipped in honey’.
United second could still happen and while Liverpool did buy Van Dyke they didn’t push City all the way but did beat them three times out of four and ended their European dream so I’m having that!
Reds new boy Salah indeed has been ‘fun to watch unless you’re a defender’, fifth-place Chelsea really have not been ‘a happy camp’ and Joe Hart’s ‘days as England No 1 are over’.
But blotting the old copy book was Tottenham playing badly at Wembley and picking the teams going down has gone as well as Theresa May’s handling of the Windrush scandal.
I apologise profusely to Europa-League-chasing (!) Burnley, gutsy Huddersfield and great escape artists Swansea.
AND finally ‘Accrington Stanley, who are they?’
Well they are League One and proud – an incredible achievement for a club with a tiny budget and a gently mocking 1989 milk advert as their biggest claim to fame!
The small Lancashire town has had a side for 130 years but it is currently celebrating like it has never celebrated before after securing a first league promotion more than 50 years after going bust.
Stanley – the most famous minnows in the world – feel like giants in 2018 and good luck to them and their manager John Coleman.
one Invincibles season, three titles, seven FA Cups, 20 St Totteringham Days, five Community Shields and a club rebooted and reborn.Tweet @BabsDouglasBP