Burnley

Burnley slideshow

Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley vs Everton - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - March 3, 2018 Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson misses a chance to score REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Premier League - Burnley vs Everton
Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley vs Everton - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - March 3, 2018 Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson misses a chance to score REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Arsène Wenger's 22-year term as Arsenal manager has now officially finished with the end of his tenure marked with a win over Huddersfield. Despite Wenger only just having officially left the club, rumours surrounding who will replace him have been swirling for some weeks. There are plenty of names in the mix: legendary former players like Patrick Viera and Thierry Henry; big-name managers like Carlo Ancelotti and Max Allegri; and young coaches, like Mikel Arteta, unproven in managerial roles. According to odds from Betfair, Arteta has emerged as the comfortable favourite, overtaking the likes Allegri and Thomas Tuchel, who previously led the betting. We'll be tracking the race as it unfolds on this page until the next Arsenal manager is appointed. Who's winning the race to replace Wenger? The contenders Mikel Arteta Odds: 1/6 Pros: The emotional bond fans felt towards Wenger could be maintained with the appointment of a former player, with supporters rooting for 'one of their own'. Not many players are offered jobs by Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and Arsenal as soon as they retire so Arteta is obviously a smart cookie. Will have learnt so much in two years under Guardiola and potentially has a very a high ceiling. A club man who will defer to the new structure and hierarchy. Cons:No managerial experience. Arteta has also played alongside several members of Arsenal's squad - how will that affect his ability to make ruthless and difficult decisions? Possible that fans will have little patience with a rookie. Brendan Rodgers Odds: 18/1 Pros:Coaches attractive and progressive football, and has an impressive history of developing young attackers. Led Liverpool to within touching distance of their first title since 1990, and has done all that could be asked of him (and a bit more) at Celtic. Cons: The teeth, the tan, the catchphrases. Arsenal became a running joke in the late-Wenger years, and Rodgers also lends himself to parody. Would be deeply unpopular with the fans, something likely to count against him. His Liverpool side were also beset by defensive weaknesses, the very area Arsenal urgently need improvement. Buvac is the leading candidate to succeed Wenger Massimiliano Allegri Odds: 20/1 Pros: A proven track record at the highest level of European football, Allegri has guided to Juventus to successive Serie A titles and two Champions League finals. Like Wenger, is a highly respected figure within football who would be a classy public face for the club. Already has experience of succeeding as a much-loved manager (Antonio Conte) and won over the Juve fans who were unhappy with his appointment. Would bring a more pragmatic approach to Arsenal's football. Cons:Liverpool and Spurs have bettered Arsenal in the past two seasons with coaches who have a clear playing identity or 'philosophy'. Allegri is not quite like that. The Italian said "You think tackling, passing & running wins in football. Footballing discussions in Italy is all about tactics and theory, you’re ruining the game. You don’t look at players or skills, but only formations. This is what damages our football." His tactical flexibility is a virtue, but there is a school of thought it is best served fine-tuning elite teams. Arsenal are more of a project at present. Carlo Ancelotti Odds: 40/1 Pros: A safe pair of hands who could steer Arsenal through what some believe could be a difficult transition. Essentially, he would ensure the club avoid a 'Moyes' situation. Has managed in England before, winning the double with Chelsea in 2010. A friendly and avuncular figure who the fans would warm too. Cons: Too similar to Wenger in his methods. Arsenal watchers have long felt their players suffer due to a lack of prescriptive coaching, with Wenger leaving them to find their own solutions. Ancelotti is also more of a manager than a coach, and a laissez-faire approach could result in more of the same. How Arsene Wenger's potential replacements would change Arsenal Luis Enrique Odds: 50/1 Pros:Has a crystal clear idea of how he wants football to be played, and won the treble at Barcelona. Enrique has a working relationship with Sanllehi, and unlike other names on this list has experience of managing a big European club. Cons: A disastrous spell at Roma is a black mark on his CV, and reports suggest he will make huge financial demands both contractually and in the transfer market. Enrique can also be a spiky and abrasive character who had frequent run-ins with the press at Barcelona. While Wenger was no stranger to the odd moan, he was also a master of charm in press conferences. Moreover, while it would be ridiculous to say managing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is 'easy', it does make his work at the Nou Camp difficult to assess. Julian Nagelsmann Odds: 50/1 Pros: A possible dark horse who ticks plenty of Arsenal's boxes. Was appointed Hoffenheim head coach at the age of 28 in 2015, leading them away from relegation trouble in his first season and qualifying for the Champions League in his second. Coaches a dynamic, energetic style based on fast recoveries of possession and looks a huge prospect. Would fit into Arsenal's structure seamlessly, and is another networked German. Cons:The move might be two or three years too soon for him. Nagelsmann might be better off developing elsewhere. Zeljko Buvac Odds: 50/1 Pros: Known as 'The Brain', Buvac is a highly-regarded coach with an intimate knowledge of Arsenal and the Premier League working as Jurgen Klopp's No.2 at Liverpool. Buvac would not demand a transfer warchest - his priority would be getting Arsenal training methods up to speed and extracting the most out of a talented, if unbalanced, squad. Would bring ideas and necessary organisation to Arsenal's play. Cons: Has not managed since 2001, does not speak English and has never dealt with media commitments. It seems slightly strange that a 57-year-old has not gone it alone before if he really had managerial ambitions. A significant section of the fanbase would greet him with scepticism. Who will replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal? Eddie Howe Odds: 50/1 Pros: See Rodgers. There is no faulting his work at Bournemouth, and Arsenal just might be attracted to the idea of swimming against the stream and appointing an English manager. Cons: It would feel a bit 'Moyes-ey'. A spell at Burnley did not quite work out for Howe, raising suspicions he might be uniquely suited to Bournemouth. No big club experience. Like Rodgers, his teams also leak cheap goals. Leonardo Jardim Odds: 50/1 Pros: Some of the brightest talents in European football have passed through Jardim's hands at Monaco, and he stitched them together in a stylish team that won Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League semi-finals last season. Is used to working at a club that cuts its cloth accordingly in the transfer market, selling their best players for huge fees and reinvesting in the squad. Arsenal will not plan on losing players at the frequency of Monaco, but they also have to be realistic about their place in the financial pecking order. Only 43 years old, too. Cons: Far from a compelling personality, Arsenal might want more from their figurehead. Will Arsenal's scouting be as fruitful as Monaco's? Could Patrick Vieira be the man to succeed Arsene Wenger? Credit: AP Joachim Löw Odds: 50/1 Pros: He's a world champion, and has also built a successful team around Mesut Özil. With Per Mertesacker as head of the academy and Arsenal's recent purchases from the Bundesliga, there are obvious connections. Tactically fluid. Cons: Löw has not managed at club level since he left Austria Vienna in 2004, and the demands of a top club job are very different to guiding a team through a summer tournament. Patrick Viera Odds: 40/1 Pros: See Arteta, but with the added advantage of managing a team of his own (New York City in the MLS). A club legend who could galvanise the fan-base, and who will have the instant respect of the players. Cons:His abilities as a coach are very difficult to ascertain. While Vieira's ability as a player is undisputed, he also had a difficult relationship with the club during summer sagas that saw him push for a move, particularly when Real Madrid came calling. Would he do the same as a manager? Odds correct on May 17 and via Betfair.
Next Arsenal manager odds: how the market has changed and who is now favourite to replace Arsene Wenger
Arsène Wenger's 22-year term as Arsenal manager has now officially finished with the end of his tenure marked with a win over Huddersfield. Despite Wenger only just having officially left the club, rumours surrounding who will replace him have been swirling for some weeks. There are plenty of names in the mix: legendary former players like Patrick Viera and Thierry Henry; big-name managers like Carlo Ancelotti and Max Allegri; and young coaches, like Mikel Arteta, unproven in managerial roles. According to odds from Betfair, Arteta has emerged as the comfortable favourite, overtaking the likes Allegri and Thomas Tuchel, who previously led the betting. We'll be tracking the race as it unfolds on this page until the next Arsenal manager is appointed. Who's winning the race to replace Wenger? The contenders Mikel Arteta Odds: 1/6 Pros: The emotional bond fans felt towards Wenger could be maintained with the appointment of a former player, with supporters rooting for 'one of their own'. Not many players are offered jobs by Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and Arsenal as soon as they retire so Arteta is obviously a smart cookie. Will have learnt so much in two years under Guardiola and potentially has a very a high ceiling. A club man who will defer to the new structure and hierarchy. Cons:No managerial experience. Arteta has also played alongside several members of Arsenal's squad - how will that affect his ability to make ruthless and difficult decisions? Possible that fans will have little patience with a rookie. Brendan Rodgers Odds: 18/1 Pros:Coaches attractive and progressive football, and has an impressive history of developing young attackers. Led Liverpool to within touching distance of their first title since 1990, and has done all that could be asked of him (and a bit more) at Celtic. Cons: The teeth, the tan, the catchphrases. Arsenal became a running joke in the late-Wenger years, and Rodgers also lends himself to parody. Would be deeply unpopular with the fans, something likely to count against him. His Liverpool side were also beset by defensive weaknesses, the very area Arsenal urgently need improvement. Buvac is the leading candidate to succeed Wenger Massimiliano Allegri Odds: 20/1 Pros: A proven track record at the highest level of European football, Allegri has guided to Juventus to successive Serie A titles and two Champions League finals. Like Wenger, is a highly respected figure within football who would be a classy public face for the club. Already has experience of succeeding as a much-loved manager (Antonio Conte) and won over the Juve fans who were unhappy with his appointment. Would bring a more pragmatic approach to Arsenal's football. Cons:Liverpool and Spurs have bettered Arsenal in the past two seasons with coaches who have a clear playing identity or 'philosophy'. Allegri is not quite like that. The Italian said "You think tackling, passing & running wins in football. Footballing discussions in Italy is all about tactics and theory, you’re ruining the game. You don’t look at players or skills, but only formations. This is what damages our football." His tactical flexibility is a virtue, but there is a school of thought it is best served fine-tuning elite teams. Arsenal are more of a project at present. Carlo Ancelotti Odds: 40/1 Pros: A safe pair of hands who could steer Arsenal through what some believe could be a difficult transition. Essentially, he would ensure the club avoid a 'Moyes' situation. Has managed in England before, winning the double with Chelsea in 2010. A friendly and avuncular figure who the fans would warm too. Cons: Too similar to Wenger in his methods. Arsenal watchers have long felt their players suffer due to a lack of prescriptive coaching, with Wenger leaving them to find their own solutions. Ancelotti is also more of a manager than a coach, and a laissez-faire approach could result in more of the same. How Arsene Wenger's potential replacements would change Arsenal Luis Enrique Odds: 50/1 Pros:Has a crystal clear idea of how he wants football to be played, and won the treble at Barcelona. Enrique has a working relationship with Sanllehi, and unlike other names on this list has experience of managing a big European club. Cons: A disastrous spell at Roma is a black mark on his CV, and reports suggest he will make huge financial demands both contractually and in the transfer market. Enrique can also be a spiky and abrasive character who had frequent run-ins with the press at Barcelona. While Wenger was no stranger to the odd moan, he was also a master of charm in press conferences. Moreover, while it would be ridiculous to say managing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is 'easy', it does make his work at the Nou Camp difficult to assess. Julian Nagelsmann Odds: 50/1 Pros: A possible dark horse who ticks plenty of Arsenal's boxes. Was appointed Hoffenheim head coach at the age of 28 in 2015, leading them away from relegation trouble in his first season and qualifying for the Champions League in his second. Coaches a dynamic, energetic style based on fast recoveries of possession and looks a huge prospect. Would fit into Arsenal's structure seamlessly, and is another networked German. Cons:The move might be two or three years too soon for him. Nagelsmann might be better off developing elsewhere. Zeljko Buvac Odds: 50/1 Pros: Known as 'The Brain', Buvac is a highly-regarded coach with an intimate knowledge of Arsenal and the Premier League working as Jurgen Klopp's No.2 at Liverpool. Buvac would not demand a transfer warchest - his priority would be getting Arsenal training methods up to speed and extracting the most out of a talented, if unbalanced, squad. Would bring ideas and necessary organisation to Arsenal's play. Cons: Has not managed since 2001, does not speak English and has never dealt with media commitments. It seems slightly strange that a 57-year-old has not gone it alone before if he really had managerial ambitions. A significant section of the fanbase would greet him with scepticism. Who will replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal? Eddie Howe Odds: 50/1 Pros: See Rodgers. There is no faulting his work at Bournemouth, and Arsenal just might be attracted to the idea of swimming against the stream and appointing an English manager. Cons: It would feel a bit 'Moyes-ey'. A spell at Burnley did not quite work out for Howe, raising suspicions he might be uniquely suited to Bournemouth. No big club experience. Like Rodgers, his teams also leak cheap goals. Leonardo Jardim Odds: 50/1 Pros: Some of the brightest talents in European football have passed through Jardim's hands at Monaco, and he stitched them together in a stylish team that won Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League semi-finals last season. Is used to working at a club that cuts its cloth accordingly in the transfer market, selling their best players for huge fees and reinvesting in the squad. Arsenal will not plan on losing players at the frequency of Monaco, but they also have to be realistic about their place in the financial pecking order. Only 43 years old, too. Cons: Far from a compelling personality, Arsenal might want more from their figurehead. Will Arsenal's scouting be as fruitful as Monaco's? Could Patrick Vieira be the man to succeed Arsene Wenger? Credit: AP Joachim Löw Odds: 50/1 Pros: He's a world champion, and has also built a successful team around Mesut Özil. With Per Mertesacker as head of the academy and Arsenal's recent purchases from the Bundesliga, there are obvious connections. Tactically fluid. Cons: Löw has not managed at club level since he left Austria Vienna in 2004, and the demands of a top club job are very different to guiding a team through a summer tournament. Patrick Viera Odds: 40/1 Pros: See Arteta, but with the added advantage of managing a team of his own (New York City in the MLS). A club legend who could galvanise the fan-base, and who will have the instant respect of the players. Cons:His abilities as a coach are very difficult to ascertain. While Vieira's ability as a player is undisputed, he also had a difficult relationship with the club during summer sagas that saw him push for a move, particularly when Real Madrid came calling. Would he do the same as a manager? Odds correct on May 17 and via Betfair.
Arsène Wenger's 22-year term as Arsenal manager has now officially finished with the end of his tenure marked with a win over Huddersfield. Despite Wenger only just having officially left the club, rumours surrounding who will replace him have been swirling for some weeks. There are plenty of names in the mix: legendary former players like Patrick Viera and Thierry Henry; big-name managers like Carlo Ancelotti and Max Allegri; and young coaches, like Mikel Arteta, unproven in managerial roles. According to odds from Betfair, Arteta has emerged as the comfortable favourite, overtaking the likes Allegri and Thomas Tuchel, who previously led the betting. We'll be tracking the race as it unfolds on this page until the next Arsenal manager is appointed. Who's winning the race to replace Wenger? The contenders Mikel Arteta Odds: 1/6 Pros: The emotional bond fans felt towards Wenger could be maintained with the appointment of a former player, with supporters rooting for 'one of their own'. Not many players are offered jobs by Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and Arsenal as soon as they retire so Arteta is obviously a smart cookie. Will have learnt so much in two years under Guardiola and potentially has a very a high ceiling. A club man who will defer to the new structure and hierarchy. Cons:No managerial experience. Arteta has also played alongside several members of Arsenal's squad - how will that affect his ability to make ruthless and difficult decisions? Possible that fans will have little patience with a rookie. Brendan Rodgers Odds: 18/1 Pros:Coaches attractive and progressive football, and has an impressive history of developing young attackers. Led Liverpool to within touching distance of their first title since 1990, and has done all that could be asked of him (and a bit more) at Celtic. Cons: The teeth, the tan, the catchphrases. Arsenal became a running joke in the late-Wenger years, and Rodgers also lends himself to parody. Would be deeply unpopular with the fans, something likely to count against him. His Liverpool side were also beset by defensive weaknesses, the very area Arsenal urgently need improvement. Buvac is the leading candidate to succeed Wenger Massimiliano Allegri Odds: 20/1 Pros: A proven track record at the highest level of European football, Allegri has guided to Juventus to successive Serie A titles and two Champions League finals. Like Wenger, is a highly respected figure within football who would be a classy public face for the club. Already has experience of succeeding as a much-loved manager (Antonio Conte) and won over the Juve fans who were unhappy with his appointment. Would bring a more pragmatic approach to Arsenal's football. Cons:Liverpool and Spurs have bettered Arsenal in the past two seasons with coaches who have a clear playing identity or 'philosophy'. Allegri is not quite like that. The Italian said "You think tackling, passing & running wins in football. Footballing discussions in Italy is all about tactics and theory, you’re ruining the game. You don’t look at players or skills, but only formations. This is what damages our football." His tactical flexibility is a virtue, but there is a school of thought it is best served fine-tuning elite teams. Arsenal are more of a project at present. Carlo Ancelotti Odds: 40/1 Pros: A safe pair of hands who could steer Arsenal through what some believe could be a difficult transition. Essentially, he would ensure the club avoid a 'Moyes' situation. Has managed in England before, winning the double with Chelsea in 2010. A friendly and avuncular figure who the fans would warm too. Cons: Too similar to Wenger in his methods. Arsenal watchers have long felt their players suffer due to a lack of prescriptive coaching, with Wenger leaving them to find their own solutions. Ancelotti is also more of a manager than a coach, and a laissez-faire approach could result in more of the same. How Arsene Wenger's potential replacements would change Arsenal Luis Enrique Odds: 50/1 Pros:Has a crystal clear idea of how he wants football to be played, and won the treble at Barcelona. Enrique has a working relationship with Sanllehi, and unlike other names on this list has experience of managing a big European club. Cons: A disastrous spell at Roma is a black mark on his CV, and reports suggest he will make huge financial demands both contractually and in the transfer market. Enrique can also be a spiky and abrasive character who had frequent run-ins with the press at Barcelona. While Wenger was no stranger to the odd moan, he was also a master of charm in press conferences. Moreover, while it would be ridiculous to say managing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is 'easy', it does make his work at the Nou Camp difficult to assess. Julian Nagelsmann Odds: 50/1 Pros: A possible dark horse who ticks plenty of Arsenal's boxes. Was appointed Hoffenheim head coach at the age of 28 in 2015, leading them away from relegation trouble in his first season and qualifying for the Champions League in his second. Coaches a dynamic, energetic style based on fast recoveries of possession and looks a huge prospect. Would fit into Arsenal's structure seamlessly, and is another networked German. Cons:The move might be two or three years too soon for him. Nagelsmann might be better off developing elsewhere. Zeljko Buvac Odds: 50/1 Pros: Known as 'The Brain', Buvac is a highly-regarded coach with an intimate knowledge of Arsenal and the Premier League working as Jurgen Klopp's No.2 at Liverpool. Buvac would not demand a transfer warchest - his priority would be getting Arsenal training methods up to speed and extracting the most out of a talented, if unbalanced, squad. Would bring ideas and necessary organisation to Arsenal's play. Cons: Has not managed since 2001, does not speak English and has never dealt with media commitments. It seems slightly strange that a 57-year-old has not gone it alone before if he really had managerial ambitions. A significant section of the fanbase would greet him with scepticism. Who will replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal? Eddie Howe Odds: 50/1 Pros: See Rodgers. There is no faulting his work at Bournemouth, and Arsenal just might be attracted to the idea of swimming against the stream and appointing an English manager. Cons: It would feel a bit 'Moyes-ey'. A spell at Burnley did not quite work out for Howe, raising suspicions he might be uniquely suited to Bournemouth. No big club experience. Like Rodgers, his teams also leak cheap goals. Leonardo Jardim Odds: 50/1 Pros: Some of the brightest talents in European football have passed through Jardim's hands at Monaco, and he stitched them together in a stylish team that won Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League semi-finals last season. Is used to working at a club that cuts its cloth accordingly in the transfer market, selling their best players for huge fees and reinvesting in the squad. Arsenal will not plan on losing players at the frequency of Monaco, but they also have to be realistic about their place in the financial pecking order. Only 43 years old, too. Cons: Far from a compelling personality, Arsenal might want more from their figurehead. Will Arsenal's scouting be as fruitful as Monaco's? Could Patrick Vieira be the man to succeed Arsene Wenger? Credit: AP Joachim Löw Odds: 50/1 Pros: He's a world champion, and has also built a successful team around Mesut Özil. With Per Mertesacker as head of the academy and Arsenal's recent purchases from the Bundesliga, there are obvious connections. Tactically fluid. Cons: Löw has not managed at club level since he left Austria Vienna in 2004, and the demands of a top club job are very different to guiding a team through a summer tournament. Patrick Viera Odds: 40/1 Pros: See Arteta, but with the added advantage of managing a team of his own (New York City in the MLS). A club legend who could galvanise the fan-base, and who will have the instant respect of the players. Cons:His abilities as a coach are very difficult to ascertain. While Vieira's ability as a player is undisputed, he also had a difficult relationship with the club during summer sagas that saw him push for a move, particularly when Real Madrid came calling. Would he do the same as a manager? Odds correct on May 17 and via Betfair.
Next Arsenal manager odds: how the market has changed and who is now favourite to replace Arsene Wenger
Arsène Wenger's 22-year term as Arsenal manager has now officially finished with the end of his tenure marked with a win over Huddersfield. Despite Wenger only just having officially left the club, rumours surrounding who will replace him have been swirling for some weeks. There are plenty of names in the mix: legendary former players like Patrick Viera and Thierry Henry; big-name managers like Carlo Ancelotti and Max Allegri; and young coaches, like Mikel Arteta, unproven in managerial roles. According to odds from Betfair, Arteta has emerged as the comfortable favourite, overtaking the likes Allegri and Thomas Tuchel, who previously led the betting. We'll be tracking the race as it unfolds on this page until the next Arsenal manager is appointed. Who's winning the race to replace Wenger? The contenders Mikel Arteta Odds: 1/6 Pros: The emotional bond fans felt towards Wenger could be maintained with the appointment of a former player, with supporters rooting for 'one of their own'. Not many players are offered jobs by Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino and Arsenal as soon as they retire so Arteta is obviously a smart cookie. Will have learnt so much in two years under Guardiola and potentially has a very a high ceiling. A club man who will defer to the new structure and hierarchy. Cons:No managerial experience. Arteta has also played alongside several members of Arsenal's squad - how will that affect his ability to make ruthless and difficult decisions? Possible that fans will have little patience with a rookie. Brendan Rodgers Odds: 18/1 Pros:Coaches attractive and progressive football, and has an impressive history of developing young attackers. Led Liverpool to within touching distance of their first title since 1990, and has done all that could be asked of him (and a bit more) at Celtic. Cons: The teeth, the tan, the catchphrases. Arsenal became a running joke in the late-Wenger years, and Rodgers also lends himself to parody. Would be deeply unpopular with the fans, something likely to count against him. His Liverpool side were also beset by defensive weaknesses, the very area Arsenal urgently need improvement. Buvac is the leading candidate to succeed Wenger Massimiliano Allegri Odds: 20/1 Pros: A proven track record at the highest level of European football, Allegri has guided to Juventus to successive Serie A titles and two Champions League finals. Like Wenger, is a highly respected figure within football who would be a classy public face for the club. Already has experience of succeeding as a much-loved manager (Antonio Conte) and won over the Juve fans who were unhappy with his appointment. Would bring a more pragmatic approach to Arsenal's football. Cons:Liverpool and Spurs have bettered Arsenal in the past two seasons with coaches who have a clear playing identity or 'philosophy'. Allegri is not quite like that. The Italian said "You think tackling, passing & running wins in football. Footballing discussions in Italy is all about tactics and theory, you’re ruining the game. You don’t look at players or skills, but only formations. This is what damages our football." His tactical flexibility is a virtue, but there is a school of thought it is best served fine-tuning elite teams. Arsenal are more of a project at present. Carlo Ancelotti Odds: 40/1 Pros: A safe pair of hands who could steer Arsenal through what some believe could be a difficult transition. Essentially, he would ensure the club avoid a 'Moyes' situation. Has managed in England before, winning the double with Chelsea in 2010. A friendly and avuncular figure who the fans would warm too. Cons: Too similar to Wenger in his methods. Arsenal watchers have long felt their players suffer due to a lack of prescriptive coaching, with Wenger leaving them to find their own solutions. Ancelotti is also more of a manager than a coach, and a laissez-faire approach could result in more of the same. How Arsene Wenger's potential replacements would change Arsenal Luis Enrique Odds: 50/1 Pros:Has a crystal clear idea of how he wants football to be played, and won the treble at Barcelona. Enrique has a working relationship with Sanllehi, and unlike other names on this list has experience of managing a big European club. Cons: A disastrous spell at Roma is a black mark on his CV, and reports suggest he will make huge financial demands both contractually and in the transfer market. Enrique can also be a spiky and abrasive character who had frequent run-ins with the press at Barcelona. While Wenger was no stranger to the odd moan, he was also a master of charm in press conferences. Moreover, while it would be ridiculous to say managing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is 'easy', it does make his work at the Nou Camp difficult to assess. Julian Nagelsmann Odds: 50/1 Pros: A possible dark horse who ticks plenty of Arsenal's boxes. Was appointed Hoffenheim head coach at the age of 28 in 2015, leading them away from relegation trouble in his first season and qualifying for the Champions League in his second. Coaches a dynamic, energetic style based on fast recoveries of possession and looks a huge prospect. Would fit into Arsenal's structure seamlessly, and is another networked German. Cons:The move might be two or three years too soon for him. Nagelsmann might be better off developing elsewhere. Zeljko Buvac Odds: 50/1 Pros: Known as 'The Brain', Buvac is a highly-regarded coach with an intimate knowledge of Arsenal and the Premier League working as Jurgen Klopp's No.2 at Liverpool. Buvac would not demand a transfer warchest - his priority would be getting Arsenal training methods up to speed and extracting the most out of a talented, if unbalanced, squad. Would bring ideas and necessary organisation to Arsenal's play. Cons: Has not managed since 2001, does not speak English and has never dealt with media commitments. It seems slightly strange that a 57-year-old has not gone it alone before if he really had managerial ambitions. A significant section of the fanbase would greet him with scepticism. Who will replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal? Eddie Howe Odds: 50/1 Pros: See Rodgers. There is no faulting his work at Bournemouth, and Arsenal just might be attracted to the idea of swimming against the stream and appointing an English manager. Cons: It would feel a bit 'Moyes-ey'. A spell at Burnley did not quite work out for Howe, raising suspicions he might be uniquely suited to Bournemouth. No big club experience. Like Rodgers, his teams also leak cheap goals. Leonardo Jardim Odds: 50/1 Pros: Some of the brightest talents in European football have passed through Jardim's hands at Monaco, and he stitched them together in a stylish team that won Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League semi-finals last season. Is used to working at a club that cuts its cloth accordingly in the transfer market, selling their best players for huge fees and reinvesting in the squad. Arsenal will not plan on losing players at the frequency of Monaco, but they also have to be realistic about their place in the financial pecking order. Only 43 years old, too. Cons: Far from a compelling personality, Arsenal might want more from their figurehead. Will Arsenal's scouting be as fruitful as Monaco's? Could Patrick Vieira be the man to succeed Arsene Wenger? Credit: AP Joachim Löw Odds: 50/1 Pros: He's a world champion, and has also built a successful team around Mesut Özil. With Per Mertesacker as head of the academy and Arsenal's recent purchases from the Bundesliga, there are obvious connections. Tactically fluid. Cons: Löw has not managed at club level since he left Austria Vienna in 2004, and the demands of a top club job are very different to guiding a team through a summer tournament. Patrick Viera Odds: 40/1 Pros: See Arteta, but with the added advantage of managing a team of his own (New York City in the MLS). A club legend who could galvanise the fan-base, and who will have the instant respect of the players. Cons:His abilities as a coach are very difficult to ascertain. While Vieira's ability as a player is undisputed, he also had a difficult relationship with the club during summer sagas that saw him push for a move, particularly when Real Madrid came calling. Would he do the same as a manager? Odds correct on May 17 and via Betfair.
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. FA Cup final 2018 | How long until it begins? Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Revealed: The inside story of how Antonio Conte's reign at Chelsea turned sour Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. Is it the final game of the season? Aside from Liverpool, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend and then a little tournament called the World Cup. Try our predictor below! World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but rules state if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester United 2 Chelsea 0
FA Cup final 2018: What time is Chelsea vs Manchester United tomorrow, what TV channel is it on and what are the latest odds?
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. FA Cup final 2018 | How long until it begins? Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Revealed: The inside story of how Antonio Conte's reign at Chelsea turned sour Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. Is it the final game of the season? Aside from Liverpool, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend and then a little tournament called the World Cup. Try our predictor below! World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but rules state if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester United 2 Chelsea 0
The big day is here! No, it's not the Royal wedding we're getting excited about here - it's FA Cup final day! You'll find everything you need to know about the game on this page. Enjoy! What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. FA Cup final 2018 | How long until it begins? Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Revealed: The inside story of how Antonio Conte's reign at Chelsea turned sour Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. Is it the final game of the season? Aside from Liverpool, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend and then a little tournament called the World Cup. Try our predictor below! World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but rules state if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester United 2 Chelsea 0
FA Cup final 2018: What time does Chelsea vs Manchester United kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what are the latest odds?
The big day is here! No, it's not the Royal wedding we're getting excited about here - it's FA Cup final day! You'll find everything you need to know about the game on this page. Enjoy! What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. FA Cup final 2018 | How long until it begins? Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Revealed: The inside story of how Antonio Conte's reign at Chelsea turned sour Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. Is it the final game of the season? Aside from Liverpool, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend and then a little tournament called the World Cup. Try our predictor below! World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but rules state if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester United 2 Chelsea 0
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. FA Cup final 2018 | How long until it begins? Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Revealed: The inside story of how Antonio Conte's reign at Chelsea turned sour Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. Is it the final game of the season? Aside from Liverpool, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend and then a little tournament called the World Cup. Try our predictor below! World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but rules state if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester United 2 Chelsea 0
FA Cup final 2018: What time is Chelsea vs Manchester United tomorrow, what TV channel is it on and what are the latest odds?
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. FA Cup final 2018 | How long until it begins? Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Revealed: The inside story of how Antonio Conte's reign at Chelsea turned sour Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. Is it the final game of the season? Aside from Liverpool, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend and then a little tournament called the World Cup. Try our predictor below! World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but rules state if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester United 2 Chelsea 0
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Prince William might have to divide his time on May 19 Credit: PA Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. VAR has been used throughout the tournament with mixed success Credit: Getty Images Is it the final game of the season? Liverpool aside, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend. World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester 2 Chelsea 0
FA Cup final 2018: What time is Chelsea vs Manchester United tomorrow, what TV channel is it on and what are the latest odds?
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Prince William might have to divide his time on May 19 Credit: PA Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. VAR has been used throughout the tournament with mixed success Credit: Getty Images Is it the final game of the season? Liverpool aside, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend. World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester 2 Chelsea 0
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Prince William might have to divide his time on May 19 Credit: PA Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. VAR has been used throughout the tournament with mixed success Credit: Getty Images Is it the final game of the season? Liverpool aside, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend. World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester 2 Chelsea 0
FA Cup final 2018: What time is Chelsea vs Manchester United tomorrow, what TV channel is it on and what are the latest odds?
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president, but will not be this year. Prince William might have to divide his time on May 19 Credit: PA Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. VAR has been used throughout the tournament with mixed success Credit: Getty Images Is it the final game of the season? Liverpool aside, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend. World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. Team news Chelsea Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could play in the FA Cup for the first time this season when Chelsea play Manchester United in Saturday's final. Willy Caballero has featured in the competition this term, but did not convince when deputising when Courtois missed the Premier League draw with Huddersfield with a back injury. Full-back Emerson Palmieri (undisclosed) has joined defenders David Luiz (knee) and Ethan Ampadu (ankle) in being ruled out injured. Provisional squad: Courtois, Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso, Fabregas, Drinkwater, Kante, Barkley, Morata, Hazard, Pedro, Bakayoko, Moses, Giroud, Zappacosta, Willian, Cahill, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Eduardo. Pick your Chelsea team to play Man Utd Manchester United Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku needs a late fitness test ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea. The Belgium international faces a race against time to recover from an ankle injury in order to line up against his former club. Winger Anthony Martial is fit after shaking off a knee problem. Provisional squad: De Gea, Romero, Valencia, Darmian, Shaw, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Bailly, Matic, Pogba, McTominay, Fellaini, Herrera, Mata, Lingard, Martial, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku. Pick your Manchester United team to play Chelsea What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester 2 Chelsea 0
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Mikel Arteta has worked as a coach, but never as the main man Credit: Getty Images Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for club's to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment and aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Mikel Arteta has worked as a coach, but never as the main man Credit: Getty Images Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for club's to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment and aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
Mikel Arteta Arsenal manager: The case for and against
Arsenal are edging closer to appointing former captain Mikel Arteta as their new head coach, a decision bound to cause consternation, intrigue or excitement depending on your disposition. The cold reality of England's third-biggest club appointing a man who has never managed a competitive game is quite extraordinary, following Arsène Wenger who sat in the Arsenal dugout 1,235 times. So are Arsenal making a brave decision that will inject youthful zeal and fresh ideas into a stale environment, or an unambitious appointment that risks deepening divides in the fan-base and prolonging a spell away from Europe's top table? The passing of time will decide, but for now let's examine both sides of the argument. The case for Arteta How much of a risk really is it? The Premier League table is stratified by wealth, which is worrying for the competition's health but reassuring for Arsenal and Arteta who have a safety net beneath them. In 2017-18, Arsenal won four of 19 away games yet still finished nine points clear of seventh-placed Burnley. The league's dynamic changes every season, but things would have to go spectacularly badly for Arsenal to finish any lower than sixth. The embarrassing away form also means there is vast room for improvement and potentially easy gains. If Arteta is of sufficient competence to guide Arsenal to victory at Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton, Newcastle and West Ham, then there is a 14-point improvement straight away. Those points would take Arsenal to 77, which last season would have had them level with 3rd-placed Spurs. Arsenal's away form leaved the new manager with plenty of scope for improvement Credit: Getty Images Given the weakness of the Premier League's non-existent middle class, and the attacking players at Arsenal's disposal, such a points tally should be within Arteta's reach. For all of Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino's excellent work, they have benefited from starting at a low base and a feeling that Liverpool and Spurs are ascendant. In a strange way, years of consistently finishing in the top four denied Arsenal the chance to experience a similar resurgence. Now they can. He does not need to 'manage' Arsenal Ivan Gazidis and his allies have spent the last few years painstakingly prising the levers of control from Wenger's grip, often met with resistance from Arsenal's former manager. Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, former Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi, contract guru Huss Fahmy and director of high performance Darren Burgess were hired to spread power and responsibility throughout the club, where once it resided in the hands of one man. It would make little sense therefore, to hire a manger who will challenge this new reality. For years, Arsenal's behaviour and actions (or lack of) l have sent out a message to managers: 'Come to Arsenal, be well-paid in one of the world's great cities, and we'll let you do as you please until the fans stop turning up'. Sven Mislintat will lead Arsenal's summer recruitment Credit: Webgrab The powers that be will be keen to change that message, making clear that the head coach is subordinate to them. Hiring a combative manager who wants as much power as possible could be a recipe for civil war. Four or five key individuals have replaced Wenger, Arteta just needs to coach, motivate and select the first-team. Arteta is not a one-club 'yes' man Arteta has strong affiliations with Arsenal but it is by no means institutionalised. Educated at Barcelona's La Masia, he went on to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Everton, playing under managers as varied as Alex McLeish and Luis Fernandez. Arteta was offered the chance of a youth-level job at Arsenal, but took the decision to leave and further his education at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola. Staying in the warm bath of London Colney would have been the easier option. It is an eclectic football grounding that means while Arteta 'knows the club', he should have enough perspective to see Arsenal's weaknesses. He was also offered a position on Pochettino's coaching staff at Spurs. These are not typical job offers for recently retired pros, so it is fair to assume Arteta is not Joe Average. People talk in football, and they are saying good things about him. The genius of Pep Guardiola: Eight things he has done to make Man City so frighteningly good No more Groundhog Season Apathy eventually did for for Wenger, with Arsenal season ticket holders deciding to leave seats empty in their thousands. The lack of a league title, poor performances and soft defending were all tangible reasons for them to be disgruntled. More damaging however, was the sense that Arsenal were always crashing in the same car to use a David Bowie title. Hope is football fans' oxygen, and Arsenal fans had lost hope that each season would have a different outcome than the last. They knew Wenger like he was one of the family: every catchphrase, substitution, tactical tweak and excuse. Now they have a completely blank canvas facing them, a chance to learn about a new man from scratch with no preconceptions. Staring straight into the unknown is daunting and stressful, but should also be a cause for excitement. No fan will have the right to say they are bored (for a few years at least). Whatever happens, it will be different for Arsenal's fans bored of Arsene Wenger Credit: Reuters He doesn't have to stay for 22 years If hiring Arteta is the wrong decision, results will be poor, it will be embarrassing for Arsenal that they have mis-judged such a key decision and Gazidis could come under significant pressure. But, guess what? Arsenal sack their manager and hire a new one! Who would have thought such a thing was possible? Arsenal have been a unique case for the past decade, having to tread delicately around a manger whose past achievements levitated him to demi-god status. The scenario will never be replicated. Arsenal will appoint multiple managers over the next 22 years, and whether he is a success or a failure, Arteta will be just one of them. The case against Arteta Inexperience The obvious place to start: Arteta has never done the job before, which in most spheres of life would be a considerable handicap. Comparisons with the arrival of an unheralded and unknown Wenger in 1996 are misguided. The 'Arsene Who?" greeting spoke more to English football's insularity than his personal history - Wenger had already managed for more than a decade and taken Monaco to the latter stages of European competition. Parallels with mentor Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane are inaccurate too. Barcelona and Real Madrid's B teams, where both managers cut their teeth for a short time, playing in competitive leagues in Spain's lower divisions. Arteta may have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, but has never (we assume) endured sleepless nights trying to pick an eleven or been held responsible for results. Arteta is bound to make mistakes as he learns his trade, and Arsenal could suffer the consequences. On the other hand, Wenger made his share too. The age of Arsenal's squad Arsenal's players have got it in the neck repeatedly over the past few seasons, called 'pussy-footed', 'cowards' and 'spineless' by notable pundits. They now have a chance to ram those words down their throat by prospering under a new regime. While there are areas that need improvement and renewal, particularly in the back-half of the team, this is a more attractive squad than many think. Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are one quality winger away from being a stellar attacking line-up. All are in the prime of their career. Everything furious TV pundits have said about Arsenal this season Had Arsenal managed to tempt Massimiliano Allegri away from Juventus, and made the right moves in the transfer market to strengthen at the back, they could have been very competitive, very quickly. On the balance of probability, that is less likely under Arteta (though by no means impossible). The risk is that Arteta takes two seasons to fully master the job, by which time the last few top-level years of Aubameyang, Özil et al have been wasted. Cue another rebuild, which might be a better time for Arteta to come in and start anew. Keeping up appearances Arsenal's status in European football is not quite diminished, but consecutive seasons in the Europa League does make the badge seem smaller. Results and performances on the grass should be the only thing that counts, but it is increasingly important for clubs to manage 'perception'. Manchester United in the post-Ferguson years have been particularly committed to 'keeping up appearances', lavishing money on high-profile, marketable players and hiring Jose Mourinho. If they were no longer winning titles, United made damn sure they won the PR war and stayed at the top of the news cycle. Another season in the Europa League awaits Arsenal Credit: Getty Images Concerns about Arteta's CV aside, there is a theory that Arsenal need a similar shot in the arm. If you cannot play in the Champions League, a high profile appointment can give the outward appearance that you are still operating at the highest level, or at least striving to do so. Hiring Arteta will feel a little small-time to some fans. The argument is flimsy because results are the only measure, but the feeling Arsenal have 'settled' could linger. Too close to the old regime Arteta only cleared his locker at London Colney in 2016, and as the preferred candidate of chief executive Ivan Gazidis he will be viewed as a 'club man'. Critics charged that Arsenal was too comfortable an environment under Wenger, with a lack of consequences for underperformance and no accountability. There will be scepticism about Arteta's ability to tackle this culture and raise standards. Gazidis spoke of the need to preserve Arsenal's values, and the appointment of Arteta is consistent with that, but some will argue that the values themselves need to change. Mikel Arteta will have to manage some of the players he captained only a few years ago Credit: Getty Images Divisions remain Making decisions to appease fans will prove a ruinous philosophy at any club, but Arsenal will be fully aware of the need to unite supporters after a fractious period. At the very least, they will want to avoid a corrosive appointment that aggravates pre-existing gripes. One should not mistake some of the loudest voices on Twitter as representative of the 60,000 at the Emirates, but appointing Arteta will divide opinion. A quick scan of the digitally active corner of the fan-base shows that many of the most vociferous anti-Wenger voices are also hostile to Arteta. However, if Arsenal win their first 10 matches of the next season such discord will ease and Arteta's name will be sung with vigour. It was ever thus.
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. Gary Lineker will present BBC coverage of the FA Cup final Credit: BBC Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president. It remains to be seen if he will dash across London to fulfil both obligations. Prince William might have to divide his time on May 19 Credit: PA Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. VAR has been used throughout the tournament with mixed success Credit: Getty Images Is it the final game of the season? Liverpool aside, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend. World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester 2 Chelsea 0
FA Cup final 2018: What time is Chelsea vs Manchester United tomorrow, what TV channel is it on and what are the latest odds?
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. Gary Lineker will present BBC coverage of the FA Cup final Credit: BBC Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president. It remains to be seen if he will dash across London to fulfil both obligations. Prince William might have to divide his time on May 19 Credit: PA Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. VAR has been used throughout the tournament with mixed success Credit: Getty Images Is it the final game of the season? Liverpool aside, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend. World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester 2 Chelsea 0
After disappointing seasons, Everton and West Ham sacked their managers within hours of each other this week. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes may have gone but doubts remain over whether the rifts between club and fans can be healed. Chris Bascombe assesses Everton’s plight and Sam Dean looks at West Ham’s. How big is the rift between the club and the fans? Chris Bascombe on Everton: It would have resembled the Grand Canyon had Sam Allardyce been retained. His exit will bring the club and fans nearer together. In fact, the targeting of Allardyce rather than the board by a section of Goodison’s support demonstrates the reluctance of most fans to allow wounds to fester. It was much easier focusing on the man who accepted the job than those who offered him it. Had Farhad Moshiri stuck with Allardyce for another season, the majority shareholder would have been subject to greater ire at the start of next season. There has been a timely boardroom reshuffle, so a fresh start beckons. There is unlikely to be much schism between fans and club by pre-season, albeit healthy cynicism remains and judgement will be reserved. London Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for West Ham Credit: getty images Sam Dean on West Ham: Enormous. The chasm has been growing ever since a difficult opening few weeks in the London Stadium last season, and only widened this season. The dissatisfaction towards the club’s owners manifested itself most dramatically during West Ham’s 3-0 defeat by Burnley in March, when hundreds of supporters hurled abuse (and coins) towards the directors. Many West Ham fans believe they were sold a lie when the club conjured images of a grand future in the new stadium. Only genuine progress on the pitch, and heavy investment off it, will soften their anger towards David Sullivan, David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady. Are they in danger of losing their identity? CB: No-one in the current regime has ever defined Everton’s ‘identity’. David Moyes was thought too negative. The fans chanted ‘the School of Science is back’ under Roberto Martinez, but lost patience when idealism stopped yielding positive results. Pragmatic Ronald Koeman was disliked because of suspicions he saw Everton as a stepping stone. Which manager of any club beyond the Champions League elite does not? Allardyce was more ‘Dogs of War’ than ‘School of Science’ but was mismatched due to his personality. The word ‘identity’ is overrated. What Everton need first and foremost is a good manager to impose his own vision, relate to the fans and make going to games enjoyable. If he signs talented players who score lots of goals, few will care if it’s total football or a more direct style. Allardyce was unwanted by supporters as soon as he was hired Credit: Getty Images SD: Huge numbers of West Ham supporters would argue that they already have lost their identity. The London Stadium feels soulless compared to Upton Park, the club’s home for 112 years, and the final few weeks of the season were pockmarked by stories of long-time supporters revealing they will not be returning for the new campaign. The fabled ‘West Ham Way’ has not been seen on the pitch since the relocation, with the side only producing a handful of impressive home performances in two seasons. David Moyes, the former manager who left the club this week, was seen by many to have an approach that was too negative. What needs to happen to put it right? CB: Better recruitment. Steve Walsh was a disaster as director of football. Allardyce was never going to be tolerated beyond the short-term. The arrival of Marcel Brands is already feeding optimism, as will Marco Silva if – as anticipated – he becomes the manager. Then it is all about the players signed. Everton need pace, creativity and goals. So does every side, but given the investment into the club there is no excuse for its absence. There has been a chronic lack of dynamic forward players, although Theo Walcott showed promise after his arrival in January. Beyond that, Everton finalising their stadium plans and starting construction will restore some of the hope that followed Moshiri when he first invested in the club. What is your favourite 'new' football stadium? SD: Firstly, Sullivan and Gold desperately need to make the right appointment when selecting their new manager as the dismissal of Moyes means that they no longer have a reliable, safe option to fall back on. The general air of chaos around the club is likely to prove a hurdle to hiring the “high-profile” figure the club wants. The nature of Sullivan’s haphazard control over transfers may also deter potential managers, while there is an urgent need to refresh an ageing squad. Despite the anger of the supporters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an upturn in results (and performances) would galvanise the entire club. Is there any faith that those in charge will make the right decisions? CB: The jury is out. Moshiri’s judgement so far is questionable, as he has been prone to pander to public opinion when he hears the crowd turn. Many will argue he was right to dismiss Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman when he did, but in another era Everton would have been more patient. A club once hailed for its stability has been through too many coaches. The Allardyce recruitment proceeded as expected. He would never last. Despite the club’s desperate need in November, caving in and offering an 18-month contract smacked of weak leadership. It has cost the club too much sacking managers. New chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, alongside Brands, give Everton a more modern look in the boardroom. They will buy the club time to fix the mistakes of the last few years. Can Farhad Moshiri regain the support of the Everton fanbase? Credit: getty images SD: To put it simply, no. Sullivan and Gold have failed to present a unified image this week, when Gold said that he hoped Moyes would be staying hours before the club revealed the manager had left. There is a perceived lack of professionalism. Fans have been unhappy with Sullivan’s son revealing club news on social media, while there is general discontent — inside and outside the club — about Brady’s column in the Sun newspaper. Brady angered supporters recently by writing that “malcontents and keyboard warriors” had caused problems at the new stadium, and also allegedly cost the club the chance to sign Islam Slimani because she had offended the Leicester City owners in one of her articles. What is the best outcome from this summer, what is the most likely - and what would constitute success next season? CB: For all their problems, the speed of change earlier this week bodes well. The announcements were blunt and welcome. The shifts in boardroom power must be reflected with equally forceful action to fix the team, getting rid of average players and recruiting those who will change perceptions of how Everton play. If, or when, Silva arrives he will need time to rebuild, but so long as the direction he is taking is clear he will get it from fans craving hope. Realistically, a league position similar to this season – seventh or eighth – should not be lazily dismissed as more of the same. It was never about where the club finished now, but how they got there and where they are going longer-term. Everton must perform better in the cup competitions and play with more promise and purpose. They will be thrust back into a development phase, but that is better than this year of stagnation. World Cup predictor SD: The best outcome would be for the club to find an ambitious manager who will bring some verve back into the side, with Manuel Pellegrini now looking the man most likely. It would help if the transfer window was free of any public fallouts with other clubs — Sullivan was labelled a “parasite” by the Sporting Lisbon director after last year’s failed pursuit of William Carvalho — and if West Ham were able to recruit three or four exciting, young players. At this uncertain stage, with no manager in place, the reality is that next year would probably be considered a success if the situation simply does not get any worse. Still, an injection of enthusiasm could go a long way to changing attitudes.
Inside the misery at West Ham and Everton - how can they put things right?
After disappointing seasons, Everton and West Ham sacked their managers within hours of each other this week. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes may have gone but doubts remain over whether the rifts between club and fans can be healed. Chris Bascombe assesses Everton’s plight and Sam Dean looks at West Ham’s. How big is the rift between the club and the fans? Chris Bascombe on Everton: It would have resembled the Grand Canyon had Sam Allardyce been retained. His exit will bring the club and fans nearer together. In fact, the targeting of Allardyce rather than the board by a section of Goodison’s support demonstrates the reluctance of most fans to allow wounds to fester. It was much easier focusing on the man who accepted the job than those who offered him it. Had Farhad Moshiri stuck with Allardyce for another season, the majority shareholder would have been subject to greater ire at the start of next season. There has been a timely boardroom reshuffle, so a fresh start beckons. There is unlikely to be much schism between fans and club by pre-season, albeit healthy cynicism remains and judgement will be reserved. London Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for West Ham Credit: getty images Sam Dean on West Ham: Enormous. The chasm has been growing ever since a difficult opening few weeks in the London Stadium last season, and only widened this season. The dissatisfaction towards the club’s owners manifested itself most dramatically during West Ham’s 3-0 defeat by Burnley in March, when hundreds of supporters hurled abuse (and coins) towards the directors. Many West Ham fans believe they were sold a lie when the club conjured images of a grand future in the new stadium. Only genuine progress on the pitch, and heavy investment off it, will soften their anger towards David Sullivan, David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady. Are they in danger of losing their identity? CB: No-one in the current regime has ever defined Everton’s ‘identity’. David Moyes was thought too negative. The fans chanted ‘the School of Science is back’ under Roberto Martinez, but lost patience when idealism stopped yielding positive results. Pragmatic Ronald Koeman was disliked because of suspicions he saw Everton as a stepping stone. Which manager of any club beyond the Champions League elite does not? Allardyce was more ‘Dogs of War’ than ‘School of Science’ but was mismatched due to his personality. The word ‘identity’ is overrated. What Everton need first and foremost is a good manager to impose his own vision, relate to the fans and make going to games enjoyable. If he signs talented players who score lots of goals, few will care if it’s total football or a more direct style. Allardyce was unwanted by supporters as soon as he was hired Credit: Getty Images SD: Huge numbers of West Ham supporters would argue that they already have lost their identity. The London Stadium feels soulless compared to Upton Park, the club’s home for 112 years, and the final few weeks of the season were pockmarked by stories of long-time supporters revealing they will not be returning for the new campaign. The fabled ‘West Ham Way’ has not been seen on the pitch since the relocation, with the side only producing a handful of impressive home performances in two seasons. David Moyes, the former manager who left the club this week, was seen by many to have an approach that was too negative. What needs to happen to put it right? CB: Better recruitment. Steve Walsh was a disaster as director of football. Allardyce was never going to be tolerated beyond the short-term. The arrival of Marcel Brands is already feeding optimism, as will Marco Silva if – as anticipated – he becomes the manager. Then it is all about the players signed. Everton need pace, creativity and goals. So does every side, but given the investment into the club there is no excuse for its absence. There has been a chronic lack of dynamic forward players, although Theo Walcott showed promise after his arrival in January. Beyond that, Everton finalising their stadium plans and starting construction will restore some of the hope that followed Moshiri when he first invested in the club. What is your favourite 'new' football stadium? SD: Firstly, Sullivan and Gold desperately need to make the right appointment when selecting their new manager as the dismissal of Moyes means that they no longer have a reliable, safe option to fall back on. The general air of chaos around the club is likely to prove a hurdle to hiring the “high-profile” figure the club wants. The nature of Sullivan’s haphazard control over transfers may also deter potential managers, while there is an urgent need to refresh an ageing squad. Despite the anger of the supporters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an upturn in results (and performances) would galvanise the entire club. Is there any faith that those in charge will make the right decisions? CB: The jury is out. Moshiri’s judgement so far is questionable, as he has been prone to pander to public opinion when he hears the crowd turn. Many will argue he was right to dismiss Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman when he did, but in another era Everton would have been more patient. A club once hailed for its stability has been through too many coaches. The Allardyce recruitment proceeded as expected. He would never last. Despite the club’s desperate need in November, caving in and offering an 18-month contract smacked of weak leadership. It has cost the club too much sacking managers. New chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, alongside Brands, give Everton a more modern look in the boardroom. They will buy the club time to fix the mistakes of the last few years. Can Farhad Moshiri regain the support of the Everton fanbase? Credit: getty images SD: To put it simply, no. Sullivan and Gold have failed to present a unified image this week, when Gold said that he hoped Moyes would be staying hours before the club revealed the manager had left. There is a perceived lack of professionalism. Fans have been unhappy with Sullivan’s son revealing club news on social media, while there is general discontent — inside and outside the club — about Brady’s column in the Sun newspaper. Brady angered supporters recently by writing that “malcontents and keyboard warriors” had caused problems at the new stadium, and also allegedly cost the club the chance to sign Islam Slimani because she had offended the Leicester City owners in one of her articles. What is the best outcome from this summer, what is the most likely - and what would constitute success next season? CB: For all their problems, the speed of change earlier this week bodes well. The announcements were blunt and welcome. The shifts in boardroom power must be reflected with equally forceful action to fix the team, getting rid of average players and recruiting those who will change perceptions of how Everton play. If, or when, Silva arrives he will need time to rebuild, but so long as the direction he is taking is clear he will get it from fans craving hope. Realistically, a league position similar to this season – seventh or eighth – should not be lazily dismissed as more of the same. It was never about where the club finished now, but how they got there and where they are going longer-term. Everton must perform better in the cup competitions and play with more promise and purpose. They will be thrust back into a development phase, but that is better than this year of stagnation. World Cup predictor SD: The best outcome would be for the club to find an ambitious manager who will bring some verve back into the side, with Manuel Pellegrini now looking the man most likely. It would help if the transfer window was free of any public fallouts with other clubs — Sullivan was labelled a “parasite” by the Sporting Lisbon director after last year’s failed pursuit of William Carvalho — and if West Ham were able to recruit three or four exciting, young players. At this uncertain stage, with no manager in place, the reality is that next year would probably be considered a success if the situation simply does not get any worse. Still, an injection of enthusiasm could go a long way to changing attitudes.
After disappointing seasons, Everton and West Ham sacked their managers within hours of each other this week. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes may have gone but doubts remain over whether the rifts between club and fans can be healed. Chris Bascombe assesses Everton’s plight and Sam Dean looks at West Ham’s. How big is the rift between the club and the fans? Chris Bascombe on Everton: It would have resembled the Grand Canyon had Sam Allardyce been retained. His exit will bring the club and fans nearer together. In fact, the targeting of Allardyce rather than the board by a section of Goodison’s support demonstrates the reluctance of most fans to allow wounds to fester. It was much easier focusing on the man who accepted the job than those who offered him it. Had Farhad Moshiri stuck with Allardyce for another season, the majority shareholder would have been subject to greater ire at the start of next season. There has been a timely boardroom reshuffle, so a fresh start beckons. There is unlikely to be much schism between fans and club by pre-season, albeit healthy cynicism remains and judgement will be reserved. London Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for West Ham Credit: getty images Sam Dean on West Ham: Enormous. The chasm has been growing ever since a difficult opening few weeks in the London Stadium last season, and only widened this season. The dissatisfaction towards the club’s owners manifested itself most dramatically during West Ham’s 3-0 defeat by Burnley in March, when hundreds of supporters hurled abuse (and coins) towards the directors. Many West Ham fans believe they were sold a lie when the club conjured images of a grand future in the new stadium. Only genuine progress on the pitch, and heavy investment off it, will soften their anger towards David Sullivan, David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady. Are they in danger of losing their identity? CB: No-one in the current regime has ever defined Everton’s ‘identity’. David Moyes was thought too negative. The fans chanted ‘the School of Science is back’ under Roberto Martinez, but lost patience when idealism stopped yielding positive results. Pragmatic Ronald Koeman was disliked because of suspicions he saw Everton as a stepping stone. Which manager of any club beyond the Champions League elite does not? Allardyce was more ‘Dogs of War’ than ‘School of Science’ but was mismatched due to his personality. The word ‘identity’ is overrated. What Everton need first and foremost is a good manager to impose his own vision, relate to the fans and make going to games enjoyable. If he signs talented players who score lots of goals, few will care if it’s total football or a more direct style. Allardyce was unwanted by supporters as soon as he was hired Credit: Getty Images SD: Huge numbers of West Ham supporters would argue that they already have lost their identity. The London Stadium feels soulless compared to Upton Park, the club’s home for 112 years, and the final few weeks of the season were pockmarked by stories of long-time supporters revealing they will not be returning for the new campaign. The fabled ‘West Ham Way’ has not been seen on the pitch since the relocation, with the side only producing a handful of impressive home performances in two seasons. David Moyes, the former manager who left the club this week, was seen by many to have an approach that was too negative. What needs to happen to put it right? CB: Better recruitment. Steve Walsh was a disaster as director of football. Allardyce was never going to be tolerated beyond the short-term. The arrival of Marcel Brands is already feeding optimism, as will Marco Silva if – as anticipated – he becomes the manager. Then it is all about the players signed. Everton need pace, creativity and goals. So does every side, but given the investment into the club there is no excuse for its absence. There has been a chronic lack of dynamic forward players, although Theo Walcott showed promise after his arrival in January. Beyond that, Everton finalising their stadium plans and starting construction will restore some of the hope that followed Moshiri when he first invested in the club. What is your favourite 'new' football stadium? SD: Firstly, Sullivan and Gold desperately need to make the right appointment when selecting their new manager as the dismissal of Moyes means that they no longer have a reliable, safe option to fall back on. The general air of chaos around the club is likely to prove a hurdle to hiring the “high-profile” figure the club wants. The nature of Sullivan’s haphazard control over transfers may also deter potential managers, while there is an urgent need to refresh an ageing squad. Despite the anger of the supporters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an upturn in results (and performances) would galvanise the entire club. Is there any faith that those in charge will make the right decisions? CB: The jury is out. Moshiri’s judgement so far is questionable, as he has been prone to pander to public opinion when he hears the crowd turn. Many will argue he was right to dismiss Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman when he did, but in another era Everton would have been more patient. A club once hailed for its stability has been through too many coaches. The Allardyce recruitment proceeded as expected. He would never last. Despite the club’s desperate need in November, caving in and offering an 18-month contract smacked of weak leadership. It has cost the club too much sacking managers. New chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, alongside Brands, give Everton a more modern look in the boardroom. They will buy the club time to fix the mistakes of the last few years. Can Farhad Moshiri regain the support of the Everton fanbase? Credit: getty images SD: To put it simply, no. Sullivan and Gold have failed to present a unified image this week, when Gold said that he hoped Moyes would be staying hours before the club revealed the manager had left. There is a perceived lack of professionalism. Fans have been unhappy with Sullivan’s son revealing club news on social media, while there is general discontent — inside and outside the club — about Brady’s column in the Sun newspaper. Brady angered supporters recently by writing that “malcontents and keyboard warriors” had caused problems at the new stadium, and also allegedly cost the club the chance to sign Islam Slimani because she had offended the Leicester City owners in one of her articles. What is the best outcome from this summer, what is the most likely - and what would constitute success next season? CB: For all their problems, the speed of change earlier this week bodes well. The announcements were blunt and welcome. The shifts in boardroom power must be reflected with equally forceful action to fix the team, getting rid of average players and recruiting those who will change perceptions of how Everton play. If, or when, Silva arrives he will need time to rebuild, but so long as the direction he is taking is clear he will get it from fans craving hope. Realistically, a league position similar to this season – seventh or eighth – should not be lazily dismissed as more of the same. It was never about where the club finished now, but how they got there and where they are going longer-term. Everton must perform better in the cup competitions and play with more promise and purpose. They will be thrust back into a development phase, but that is better than this year of stagnation. World Cup predictor SD: The best outcome would be for the club to find an ambitious manager who will bring some verve back into the side, with Manuel Pellegrini now looking the man most likely. It would help if the transfer window was free of any public fallouts with other clubs — Sullivan was labelled a “parasite” by the Sporting Lisbon director after last year’s failed pursuit of William Carvalho — and if West Ham were able to recruit three or four exciting, young players. At this uncertain stage, with no manager in place, the reality is that next year would probably be considered a success if the situation simply does not get any worse. Still, an injection of enthusiasm could go a long way to changing attitudes.
Inside the misery at West Ham and Everton - how can they put things right?
After disappointing seasons, Everton and West Ham sacked their managers within hours of each other this week. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes may have gone but doubts remain over whether the rifts between club and fans can be healed. Chris Bascombe assesses Everton’s plight and Sam Dean looks at West Ham’s. How big is the rift between the club and the fans? Chris Bascombe on Everton: It would have resembled the Grand Canyon had Sam Allardyce been retained. His exit will bring the club and fans nearer together. In fact, the targeting of Allardyce rather than the board by a section of Goodison’s support demonstrates the reluctance of most fans to allow wounds to fester. It was much easier focusing on the man who accepted the job than those who offered him it. Had Farhad Moshiri stuck with Allardyce for another season, the majority shareholder would have been subject to greater ire at the start of next season. There has been a timely boardroom reshuffle, so a fresh start beckons. There is unlikely to be much schism between fans and club by pre-season, albeit healthy cynicism remains and judgement will be reserved. London Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for West Ham Credit: getty images Sam Dean on West Ham: Enormous. The chasm has been growing ever since a difficult opening few weeks in the London Stadium last season, and only widened this season. The dissatisfaction towards the club’s owners manifested itself most dramatically during West Ham’s 3-0 defeat by Burnley in March, when hundreds of supporters hurled abuse (and coins) towards the directors. Many West Ham fans believe they were sold a lie when the club conjured images of a grand future in the new stadium. Only genuine progress on the pitch, and heavy investment off it, will soften their anger towards David Sullivan, David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady. Are they in danger of losing their identity? CB: No-one in the current regime has ever defined Everton’s ‘identity’. David Moyes was thought too negative. The fans chanted ‘the School of Science is back’ under Roberto Martinez, but lost patience when idealism stopped yielding positive results. Pragmatic Ronald Koeman was disliked because of suspicions he saw Everton as a stepping stone. Which manager of any club beyond the Champions League elite does not? Allardyce was more ‘Dogs of War’ than ‘School of Science’ but was mismatched due to his personality. The word ‘identity’ is overrated. What Everton need first and foremost is a good manager to impose his own vision, relate to the fans and make going to games enjoyable. If he signs talented players who score lots of goals, few will care if it’s total football or a more direct style. Allardyce was unwanted by supporters as soon as he was hired Credit: Getty Images SD: Huge numbers of West Ham supporters would argue that they already have lost their identity. The London Stadium feels soulless compared to Upton Park, the club’s home for 112 years, and the final few weeks of the season were pockmarked by stories of long-time supporters revealing they will not be returning for the new campaign. The fabled ‘West Ham Way’ has not been seen on the pitch since the relocation, with the side only producing a handful of impressive home performances in two seasons. David Moyes, the former manager who left the club this week, was seen by many to have an approach that was too negative. What needs to happen to put it right? CB: Better recruitment. Steve Walsh was a disaster as director of football. Allardyce was never going to be tolerated beyond the short-term. The arrival of Marcel Brands is already feeding optimism, as will Marco Silva if – as anticipated – he becomes the manager. Then it is all about the players signed. Everton need pace, creativity and goals. So does every side, but given the investment into the club there is no excuse for its absence. There has been a chronic lack of dynamic forward players, although Theo Walcott showed promise after his arrival in January. Beyond that, Everton finalising their stadium plans and starting construction will restore some of the hope that followed Moshiri when he first invested in the club. What is your favourite 'new' football stadium? SD: Firstly, Sullivan and Gold desperately need to make the right appointment when selecting their new manager as the dismissal of Moyes means that they no longer have a reliable, safe option to fall back on. The general air of chaos around the club is likely to prove a hurdle to hiring the “high-profile” figure the club wants. The nature of Sullivan’s haphazard control over transfers may also deter potential managers, while there is an urgent need to refresh an ageing squad. Despite the anger of the supporters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an upturn in results (and performances) would galvanise the entire club. Is there any faith that those in charge will make the right decisions? CB: The jury is out. Moshiri’s judgement so far is questionable, as he has been prone to pander to public opinion when he hears the crowd turn. Many will argue he was right to dismiss Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman when he did, but in another era Everton would have been more patient. A club once hailed for its stability has been through too many coaches. The Allardyce recruitment proceeded as expected. He would never last. Despite the club’s desperate need in November, caving in and offering an 18-month contract smacked of weak leadership. It has cost the club too much sacking managers. New chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, alongside Brands, give Everton a more modern look in the boardroom. They will buy the club time to fix the mistakes of the last few years. Can Farhad Moshiri regain the support of the Everton fanbase? Credit: getty images SD: To put it simply, no. Sullivan and Gold have failed to present a unified image this week, when Gold said that he hoped Moyes would be staying hours before the club revealed the manager had left. There is a perceived lack of professionalism. Fans have been unhappy with Sullivan’s son revealing club news on social media, while there is general discontent — inside and outside the club — about Brady’s column in the Sun newspaper. Brady angered supporters recently by writing that “malcontents and keyboard warriors” had caused problems at the new stadium, and also allegedly cost the club the chance to sign Islam Slimani because she had offended the Leicester City owners in one of her articles. What is the best outcome from this summer, what is the most likely - and what would constitute success next season? CB: For all their problems, the speed of change earlier this week bodes well. The announcements were blunt and welcome. The shifts in boardroom power must be reflected with equally forceful action to fix the team, getting rid of average players and recruiting those who will change perceptions of how Everton play. If, or when, Silva arrives he will need time to rebuild, but so long as the direction he is taking is clear he will get it from fans craving hope. Realistically, a league position similar to this season – seventh or eighth – should not be lazily dismissed as more of the same. It was never about where the club finished now, but how they got there and where they are going longer-term. Everton must perform better in the cup competitions and play with more promise and purpose. They will be thrust back into a development phase, but that is better than this year of stagnation. World Cup predictor SD: The best outcome would be for the club to find an ambitious manager who will bring some verve back into the side, with Manuel Pellegrini now looking the man most likely. It would help if the transfer window was free of any public fallouts with other clubs — Sullivan was labelled a “parasite” by the Sporting Lisbon director after last year’s failed pursuit of William Carvalho — and if West Ham were able to recruit three or four exciting, young players. At this uncertain stage, with no manager in place, the reality is that next year would probably be considered a success if the situation simply does not get any worse. Still, an injection of enthusiasm could go a long way to changing attitudes.
After disappointing seasons, Everton and West Ham sacked their managers within hours of each other this week. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes may have gone but doubts remain over whether the rifts between club and fans can be healed. Chris Bascombe assesses Everton’s plight and Sam Dean looks at West Ham’s. How big is the rift between the club and the fans? Chris Bascombe on Everton: It would have resembled the Grand Canyon had Sam Allardyce been retained. His exit will bring the club and fans nearer together. In fact, the targeting of Allardyce rather than the board by a section of Goodison’s support demonstrates the reluctance of most fans to allow wounds to fester. It was much easier focusing on the man who accepted the job than those who offered him it. Had Farhad Moshiri stuck with Allardyce for another season, the majority shareholder would have been subject to greater ire at the start of next season. There has been a timely boardroom reshuffle, so a fresh start beckons. There is unlikely to be much schism between fans and club by pre-season, albeit healthy cynicism remains and judgement will be reserved. London Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for West Ham Credit: getty images Sam Dean on West Ham: Enormous. The chasm has been growing ever since a difficult opening few weeks in the London Stadium last season, and only widened this season. The dissatisfaction towards the club’s owners manifested itself most dramatically during West Ham’s 3-0 defeat by Burnley in March, when hundreds of supporters hurled abuse (and coins) towards the directors. Many West Ham fans believe they were sold a lie when the club conjured images of a grand future in the new stadium. Only genuine progress on the pitch, and heavy investment off it, will soften their anger towards David Sullivan, David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady. Are they in danger of losing their identity? CB: No-one in the current regime has ever defined Everton’s ‘identity’. David Moyes was thought too negative. The fans chanted ‘the School of Science is back’ under Roberto Martinez, but lost patience when idealism stopped yielding positive results. Pragmatic Ronald Koeman was disliked because of suspicions he saw Everton as a stepping stone. Which manager of any club beyond the Champions League elite does not? Allardyce was more ‘Dogs of War’ than ‘School of Science’ but was mismatched due to his personality. The word ‘identity’ is overrated. What Everton need first and foremost is a good manager to impose his own vision, relate to the fans and make going to games enjoyable. If he signs talented players who score lots of goals, few will care if it’s total football or a more direct style. Allardyce was unwanted by supporters as soon as he was hired Credit: Getty Images SD: Huge numbers of West Ham supporters would argue that they already have lost their identity. The London Stadium feels soulless compared to Upton Park, the club’s home for 112 years, and the final few weeks of the season were pockmarked by stories of long-time supporters revealing they will not be returning for the new campaign. The fabled ‘West Ham Way’ has not been seen on the pitch since the relocation, with the side only producing a handful of impressive home performances in two seasons. David Moyes, the former manager who left the club this week, was seen by many to have an approach that was too negative. What needs to happen to put it right? CB: Better recruitment. Steve Walsh was a disaster as director of football. Allardyce was never going to be tolerated beyond the short-term. The arrival of Marcel Brands is already feeding optimism, as will Marco Silva if – as anticipated – he becomes the manager. Then it is all about the players signed. Everton need pace, creativity and goals. So does every side, but given the investment into the club there is no excuse for its absence. There has been a chronic lack of dynamic forward players, although Theo Walcott showed promise after his arrival in January. Beyond that, Everton finalising their stadium plans and starting construction will restore some of the hope that followed Moshiri when he first invested in the club. What is your favourite 'new' football stadium? SD: Firstly, Sullivan and Gold desperately need to make the right appointment when selecting their new manager as the dismissal of Moyes means that they no longer have a reliable, safe option to fall back on. The general air of chaos around the club is likely to prove a hurdle to hiring the “high-profile” figure the club wants. The nature of Sullivan’s haphazard control over transfers may also deter potential managers, while there is an urgent need to refresh an ageing squad. Despite the anger of the supporters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an upturn in results (and performances) would galvanise the entire club. Is there any faith that those in charge will make the right decisions? CB: The jury is out. Moshiri’s judgement so far is questionable, as he has been prone to pander to public opinion when he hears the crowd turn. Many will argue he was right to dismiss Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman when he did, but in another era Everton would have been more patient. A club once hailed for its stability has been through too many coaches. The Allardyce recruitment proceeded as expected. He would never last. Despite the club’s desperate need in November, caving in and offering an 18-month contract smacked of weak leadership. It has cost the club too much sacking managers. New chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, alongside Brands, give Everton a more modern look in the boardroom. They will buy the club time to fix the mistakes of the last few years. Can Farhad Moshiri regain the support of the Everton fanbase? Credit: getty images SD: To put it simply, no. Sullivan and Gold have failed to present a unified image this week, when Gold said that he hoped Moyes would be staying hours before the club revealed the manager had left. There is a perceived lack of professionalism. Fans have been unhappy with Sullivan’s son revealing club news on social media, while there is general discontent — inside and outside the club — about Brady’s column in the Sun newspaper. Brady angered supporters recently by writing that “malcontents and keyboard warriors” had caused problems at the new stadium, and also allegedly cost the club the chance to sign Islam Slimani because she had offended the Leicester City owners in one of her articles. What is the best outcome from this summer, what is the most likely - and what would constitute success next season? CB: For all their problems, the speed of change earlier this week bodes well. The announcements were blunt and welcome. The shifts in boardroom power must be reflected with equally forceful action to fix the team, getting rid of average players and recruiting those who will change perceptions of how Everton play. If, or when, Silva arrives he will need time to rebuild, but so long as the direction he is taking is clear he will get it from fans craving hope. Realistically, a league position similar to this season – seventh or eighth – should not be lazily dismissed as more of the same. It was never about where the club finished now, but how they got there and where they are going longer-term. Everton must perform better in the cup competitions and play with more promise and purpose. They will be thrust back into a development phase, but that is better than this year of stagnation. World Cup predictor SD: The best outcome would be for the club to find an ambitious manager who will bring some verve back into the side, with Manuel Pellegrini now looking the man most likely. It would help if the transfer window was free of any public fallouts with other clubs — Sullivan was labelled a “parasite” by the Sporting Lisbon director after last year’s failed pursuit of William Carvalho — and if West Ham were able to recruit three or four exciting, young players. At this uncertain stage, with no manager in place, the reality is that next year would probably be considered a success if the situation simply does not get any worse. Still, an injection of enthusiasm could go a long way to changing attitudes.
Inside the misery at West Ham and Everton - how can they put things right?
After disappointing seasons, Everton and West Ham sacked their managers within hours of each other this week. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes may have gone but doubts remain over whether the rifts between club and fans can be healed. Chris Bascombe assesses Everton’s plight and Sam Dean looks at West Ham’s. How big is the rift between the club and the fans? Chris Bascombe on Everton: It would have resembled the Grand Canyon had Sam Allardyce been retained. His exit will bring the club and fans nearer together. In fact, the targeting of Allardyce rather than the board by a section of Goodison’s support demonstrates the reluctance of most fans to allow wounds to fester. It was much easier focusing on the man who accepted the job than those who offered him it. Had Farhad Moshiri stuck with Allardyce for another season, the majority shareholder would have been subject to greater ire at the start of next season. There has been a timely boardroom reshuffle, so a fresh start beckons. There is unlikely to be much schism between fans and club by pre-season, albeit healthy cynicism remains and judgement will be reserved. London Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for West Ham Credit: getty images Sam Dean on West Ham: Enormous. The chasm has been growing ever since a difficult opening few weeks in the London Stadium last season, and only widened this season. The dissatisfaction towards the club’s owners manifested itself most dramatically during West Ham’s 3-0 defeat by Burnley in March, when hundreds of supporters hurled abuse (and coins) towards the directors. Many West Ham fans believe they were sold a lie when the club conjured images of a grand future in the new stadium. Only genuine progress on the pitch, and heavy investment off it, will soften their anger towards David Sullivan, David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady. Are they in danger of losing their identity? CB: No-one in the current regime has ever defined Everton’s ‘identity’. David Moyes was thought too negative. The fans chanted ‘the School of Science is back’ under Roberto Martinez, but lost patience when idealism stopped yielding positive results. Pragmatic Ronald Koeman was disliked because of suspicions he saw Everton as a stepping stone. Which manager of any club beyond the Champions League elite does not? Allardyce was more ‘Dogs of War’ than ‘School of Science’ but was mismatched due to his personality. The word ‘identity’ is overrated. What Everton need first and foremost is a good manager to impose his own vision, relate to the fans and make going to games enjoyable. If he signs talented players who score lots of goals, few will care if it’s total football or a more direct style. Allardyce was unwanted by supporters as soon as he was hired Credit: Getty Images SD: Huge numbers of West Ham supporters would argue that they already have lost their identity. The London Stadium feels soulless compared to Upton Park, the club’s home for 112 years, and the final few weeks of the season were pockmarked by stories of long-time supporters revealing they will not be returning for the new campaign. The fabled ‘West Ham Way’ has not been seen on the pitch since the relocation, with the side only producing a handful of impressive home performances in two seasons. David Moyes, the former manager who left the club this week, was seen by many to have an approach that was too negative. What needs to happen to put it right? CB: Better recruitment. Steve Walsh was a disaster as director of football. Allardyce was never going to be tolerated beyond the short-term. The arrival of Marcel Brands is already feeding optimism, as will Marco Silva if – as anticipated – he becomes the manager. Then it is all about the players signed. Everton need pace, creativity and goals. So does every side, but given the investment into the club there is no excuse for its absence. There has been a chronic lack of dynamic forward players, although Theo Walcott showed promise after his arrival in January. Beyond that, Everton finalising their stadium plans and starting construction will restore some of the hope that followed Moshiri when he first invested in the club. What is your favourite 'new' football stadium? SD: Firstly, Sullivan and Gold desperately need to make the right appointment when selecting their new manager as the dismissal of Moyes means that they no longer have a reliable, safe option to fall back on. The general air of chaos around the club is likely to prove a hurdle to hiring the “high-profile” figure the club wants. The nature of Sullivan’s haphazard control over transfers may also deter potential managers, while there is an urgent need to refresh an ageing squad. Despite the anger of the supporters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an upturn in results (and performances) would galvanise the entire club. Is there any faith that those in charge will make the right decisions? CB: The jury is out. Moshiri’s judgement so far is questionable, as he has been prone to pander to public opinion when he hears the crowd turn. Many will argue he was right to dismiss Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman when he did, but in another era Everton would have been more patient. A club once hailed for its stability has been through too many coaches. The Allardyce recruitment proceeded as expected. He would never last. Despite the club’s desperate need in November, caving in and offering an 18-month contract smacked of weak leadership. It has cost the club too much sacking managers. New chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, alongside Brands, give Everton a more modern look in the boardroom. They will buy the club time to fix the mistakes of the last few years. Can Farhad Moshiri regain the support of the Everton fanbase? Credit: getty images SD: To put it simply, no. Sullivan and Gold have failed to present a unified image this week, when Gold said that he hoped Moyes would be staying hours before the club revealed the manager had left. There is a perceived lack of professionalism. Fans have been unhappy with Sullivan’s son revealing club news on social media, while there is general discontent — inside and outside the club — about Brady’s column in the Sun newspaper. Brady angered supporters recently by writing that “malcontents and keyboard warriors” had caused problems at the new stadium, and also allegedly cost the club the chance to sign Islam Slimani because she had offended the Leicester City owners in one of her articles. What is the best outcome from this summer, what is the most likely - and what would constitute success next season? CB: For all their problems, the speed of change earlier this week bodes well. The announcements were blunt and welcome. The shifts in boardroom power must be reflected with equally forceful action to fix the team, getting rid of average players and recruiting those who will change perceptions of how Everton play. If, or when, Silva arrives he will need time to rebuild, but so long as the direction he is taking is clear he will get it from fans craving hope. Realistically, a league position similar to this season – seventh or eighth – should not be lazily dismissed as more of the same. It was never about where the club finished now, but how they got there and where they are going longer-term. Everton must perform better in the cup competitions and play with more promise and purpose. They will be thrust back into a development phase, but that is better than this year of stagnation. World Cup predictor SD: The best outcome would be for the club to find an ambitious manager who will bring some verve back into the side, with Manuel Pellegrini now looking the man most likely. It would help if the transfer window was free of any public fallouts with other clubs — Sullivan was labelled a “parasite” by the Sporting Lisbon director after last year’s failed pursuit of William Carvalho — and if West Ham were able to recruit three or four exciting, young players. At this uncertain stage, with no manager in place, the reality is that next year would probably be considered a success if the situation simply does not get any worse. Still, an injection of enthusiasm could go a long way to changing attitudes.
After disappointing seasons, Everton and West Ham sacked their managers within hours of each other this week. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes may have gone but doubts remain over whether the rifts between club and fans can be healed. Chris Bascombe assesses Everton’s plight and Sam Dean looks at West Ham’s. How big is the rift between the club and the fans? Chris Bascombe on Everton: It would have resembled the Grand Canyon had Sam Allardyce been retained. His exit will bring the club and fans nearer together. In fact, the targeting of Allardyce rather than the board by a section of Goodison’s support demonstrates the reluctance of most fans to allow wounds to fester. It was much easier focusing on the man who accepted the job than those who offered him it. Had Farhad Moshiri stuck with Allardyce for another season, the majority shareholder would have been subject to greater ire at the start of next season. There has been a timely boardroom reshuffle, so a fresh start beckons. There is unlikely to be much schism between fans and club by pre-season, albeit healthy cynicism remains and judgement will be reserved. London Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for West Ham Credit: getty images Sam Dean on West Ham: Enormous. The chasm has been growing ever since a difficult opening few weeks in the London Stadium last season, and only widened this season. The dissatisfaction towards the club’s owners manifested itself most dramatically during West Ham’s 3-0 defeat by Burnley in March, when hundreds of supporters hurled abuse (and coins) towards the directors. Many West Ham fans believe they were sold a lie when the club conjured images of a grand future in the new stadium. Only genuine progress on the pitch, and heavy investment off it, will soften their anger towards David Sullivan, David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady. Are they in danger of losing their identity? CB: No-one in the current regime has ever defined Everton’s ‘identity’. David Moyes was thought too negative. The fans chanted ‘the School of Science is back’ under Roberto Martinez, but lost patience when idealism stopped yielding positive results. Pragmatic Ronald Koeman was disliked because of suspicions he saw Everton as a stepping stone. Which manager of any club beyond the Champions League elite does not? Allardyce was more ‘Dogs of War’ than ‘School of Science’ but was mismatched due to his personality. The word ‘identity’ is overrated. What Everton need first and foremost is a good manager to impose his own vision, relate to the fans and make going to games enjoyable. If he signs talented players who score lots of goals, few will care if it’s total football or a more direct style. Allardyce was unwanted by supporters as soon as he was hired Credit: Getty Images SD: Huge numbers of West Ham supporters would argue that they already have lost their identity. The London Stadium feels soulless compared to Upton Park, the club’s home for 112 years, and the final few weeks of the season were pockmarked by stories of long-time supporters revealing they will not be returning for the new campaign. The fabled ‘West Ham Way’ has not been seen on the pitch since the relocation, with the side only producing a handful of impressive home performances in two seasons. David Moyes, the former manager who left the club this week, was seen by many to have an approach that was too negative. What needs to happen to put it right? CB: Better recruitment. Steve Walsh was a disaster as director of football. Allardyce was never going to be tolerated beyond the short-term. The arrival of Marcel Brands is already feeding optimism, as will Marco Silva if – as anticipated – he becomes the manager. Then it is all about the players signed. Everton need pace, creativity and goals. So does every side, but given the investment into the club there is no excuse for its absence. There has been a chronic lack of dynamic forward players, although Theo Walcott showed promise after his arrival in January. Beyond that, Everton finalising their stadium plans and starting construction will restore some of the hope that followed Moshiri when he first invested in the club. What is your favourite 'new' football stadium? SD: Firstly, Sullivan and Gold desperately need to make the right appointment when selecting their new manager as the dismissal of Moyes means that they no longer have a reliable, safe option to fall back on. The general air of chaos around the club is likely to prove a hurdle to hiring the “high-profile” figure the club wants. The nature of Sullivan’s haphazard control over transfers may also deter potential managers, while there is an urgent need to refresh an ageing squad. Despite the anger of the supporters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an upturn in results (and performances) would galvanise the entire club. Is there any faith that those in charge will make the right decisions? CB: The jury is out. Moshiri’s judgement so far is questionable, as he has been prone to pander to public opinion when he hears the crowd turn. Many will argue he was right to dismiss Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman when he did, but in another era Everton would have been more patient. A club once hailed for its stability has been through too many coaches. The Allardyce recruitment proceeded as expected. He would never last. Despite the club’s desperate need in November, caving in and offering an 18-month contract smacked of weak leadership. It has cost the club too much sacking managers. New chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, alongside Brands, give Everton a more modern look in the boardroom. They will buy the club time to fix the mistakes of the last few years. Can Farhad Moshiri regain the support of the Everton fanbase? Credit: getty images SD: To put it simply, no. Sullivan and Gold have failed to present a unified image this week, when Gold said that he hoped Moyes would be staying hours before the club revealed the manager had left. There is a perceived lack of professionalism. Fans have been unhappy with Sullivan’s son revealing club news on social media, while there is general discontent — inside and outside the club — about Brady’s column in the Sun newspaper. Brady angered supporters recently by writing that “malcontents and keyboard warriors” had caused problems at the new stadium, and also allegedly cost the club the chance to sign Islam Slimani because she had offended the Leicester City owners in one of her articles. What is the best outcome from this summer, what is the most likely - and what would constitute success next season? CB: For all their problems, the speed of change earlier this week bodes well. The announcements were blunt and welcome. The shifts in boardroom power must be reflected with equally forceful action to fix the team, getting rid of average players and recruiting those who will change perceptions of how Everton play. If, or when, Silva arrives he will need time to rebuild, but so long as the direction he is taking is clear he will get it from fans craving hope. Realistically, a league position similar to this season – seventh or eighth – should not be lazily dismissed as more of the same. It was never about where the club finished now, but how they got there and where they are going longer-term. Everton must perform better in the cup competitions and play with more promise and purpose. They will be thrust back into a development phase, but that is better than this year of stagnation. World Cup predictor SD: The best outcome would be for the club to find an ambitious manager who will bring some verve back into the side, with Manuel Pellegrini now looking the man most likely. It would help if the transfer window was free of any public fallouts with other clubs — Sullivan was labelled a “parasite” by the Sporting Lisbon director after last year’s failed pursuit of William Carvalho — and if West Ham were able to recruit three or four exciting, young players. At this uncertain stage, with no manager in place, the reality is that next year would probably be considered a success if the situation simply does not get any worse. Still, an injection of enthusiasm could go a long way to changing attitudes.
Inside the misery at West Ham and Everton - how can they put things right?
After disappointing seasons, Everton and West Ham sacked their managers within hours of each other this week. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes may have gone but doubts remain over whether the rifts between club and fans can be healed. Chris Bascombe assesses Everton’s plight and Sam Dean looks at West Ham’s. How big is the rift between the club and the fans? Chris Bascombe on Everton: It would have resembled the Grand Canyon had Sam Allardyce been retained. His exit will bring the club and fans nearer together. In fact, the targeting of Allardyce rather than the board by a section of Goodison’s support demonstrates the reluctance of most fans to allow wounds to fester. It was much easier focusing on the man who accepted the job than those who offered him it. Had Farhad Moshiri stuck with Allardyce for another season, the majority shareholder would have been subject to greater ire at the start of next season. There has been a timely boardroom reshuffle, so a fresh start beckons. There is unlikely to be much schism between fans and club by pre-season, albeit healthy cynicism remains and judgement will be reserved. London Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for West Ham Credit: getty images Sam Dean on West Ham: Enormous. The chasm has been growing ever since a difficult opening few weeks in the London Stadium last season, and only widened this season. The dissatisfaction towards the club’s owners manifested itself most dramatically during West Ham’s 3-0 defeat by Burnley in March, when hundreds of supporters hurled abuse (and coins) towards the directors. Many West Ham fans believe they were sold a lie when the club conjured images of a grand future in the new stadium. Only genuine progress on the pitch, and heavy investment off it, will soften their anger towards David Sullivan, David Gold and vice-chairman Karren Brady. Are they in danger of losing their identity? CB: No-one in the current regime has ever defined Everton’s ‘identity’. David Moyes was thought too negative. The fans chanted ‘the School of Science is back’ under Roberto Martinez, but lost patience when idealism stopped yielding positive results. Pragmatic Ronald Koeman was disliked because of suspicions he saw Everton as a stepping stone. Which manager of any club beyond the Champions League elite does not? Allardyce was more ‘Dogs of War’ than ‘School of Science’ but was mismatched due to his personality. The word ‘identity’ is overrated. What Everton need first and foremost is a good manager to impose his own vision, relate to the fans and make going to games enjoyable. If he signs talented players who score lots of goals, few will care if it’s total football or a more direct style. Allardyce was unwanted by supporters as soon as he was hired Credit: Getty Images SD: Huge numbers of West Ham supporters would argue that they already have lost their identity. The London Stadium feels soulless compared to Upton Park, the club’s home for 112 years, and the final few weeks of the season were pockmarked by stories of long-time supporters revealing they will not be returning for the new campaign. The fabled ‘West Ham Way’ has not been seen on the pitch since the relocation, with the side only producing a handful of impressive home performances in two seasons. David Moyes, the former manager who left the club this week, was seen by many to have an approach that was too negative. What needs to happen to put it right? CB: Better recruitment. Steve Walsh was a disaster as director of football. Allardyce was never going to be tolerated beyond the short-term. The arrival of Marcel Brands is already feeding optimism, as will Marco Silva if – as anticipated – he becomes the manager. Then it is all about the players signed. Everton need pace, creativity and goals. So does every side, but given the investment into the club there is no excuse for its absence. There has been a chronic lack of dynamic forward players, although Theo Walcott showed promise after his arrival in January. Beyond that, Everton finalising their stadium plans and starting construction will restore some of the hope that followed Moshiri when he first invested in the club. What is your favourite 'new' football stadium? SD: Firstly, Sullivan and Gold desperately need to make the right appointment when selecting their new manager as the dismissal of Moyes means that they no longer have a reliable, safe option to fall back on. The general air of chaos around the club is likely to prove a hurdle to hiring the “high-profile” figure the club wants. The nature of Sullivan’s haphazard control over transfers may also deter potential managers, while there is an urgent need to refresh an ageing squad. Despite the anger of the supporters, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that an upturn in results (and performances) would galvanise the entire club. Is there any faith that those in charge will make the right decisions? CB: The jury is out. Moshiri’s judgement so far is questionable, as he has been prone to pander to public opinion when he hears the crowd turn. Many will argue he was right to dismiss Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman when he did, but in another era Everton would have been more patient. A club once hailed for its stability has been through too many coaches. The Allardyce recruitment proceeded as expected. He would never last. Despite the club’s desperate need in November, caving in and offering an 18-month contract smacked of weak leadership. It has cost the club too much sacking managers. New chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, alongside Brands, give Everton a more modern look in the boardroom. They will buy the club time to fix the mistakes of the last few years. Can Farhad Moshiri regain the support of the Everton fanbase? Credit: getty images SD: To put it simply, no. Sullivan and Gold have failed to present a unified image this week, when Gold said that he hoped Moyes would be staying hours before the club revealed the manager had left. There is a perceived lack of professionalism. Fans have been unhappy with Sullivan’s son revealing club news on social media, while there is general discontent — inside and outside the club — about Brady’s column in the Sun newspaper. Brady angered supporters recently by writing that “malcontents and keyboard warriors” had caused problems at the new stadium, and also allegedly cost the club the chance to sign Islam Slimani because she had offended the Leicester City owners in one of her articles. What is the best outcome from this summer, what is the most likely - and what would constitute success next season? CB: For all their problems, the speed of change earlier this week bodes well. The announcements were blunt and welcome. The shifts in boardroom power must be reflected with equally forceful action to fix the team, getting rid of average players and recruiting those who will change perceptions of how Everton play. If, or when, Silva arrives he will need time to rebuild, but so long as the direction he is taking is clear he will get it from fans craving hope. Realistically, a league position similar to this season – seventh or eighth – should not be lazily dismissed as more of the same. It was never about where the club finished now, but how they got there and where they are going longer-term. Everton must perform better in the cup competitions and play with more promise and purpose. They will be thrust back into a development phase, but that is better than this year of stagnation. World Cup predictor SD: The best outcome would be for the club to find an ambitious manager who will bring some verve back into the side, with Manuel Pellegrini now looking the man most likely. It would help if the transfer window was free of any public fallouts with other clubs — Sullivan was labelled a “parasite” by the Sporting Lisbon director after last year’s failed pursuit of William Carvalho — and if West Ham were able to recruit three or four exciting, young players. At this uncertain stage, with no manager in place, the reality is that next year would probably be considered a success if the situation simply does not get any worse. Still, an injection of enthusiasm could go a long way to changing attitudes.
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. Gary Lineker will present BBC coverage of the FA Cup final Credit: BBC Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president. It remains to be seen if he will dash across London to fulfil both obligations. Prince William might have to divide his time on May 19 Credit: PA Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. VAR has been used throughout the tournament with mixed success Credit: Getty Images Is it the final game of the season? Liverpool aside, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend. World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Conte looks likely to leave after the FA Cup final - irrespective of the result Credit: Getty Images Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 FA Cup final Betting Offer | 60/1 Chelsea v 50/1 Man Utd What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester 2 Chelsea 0
FA Cup final 2018: What time is Chelsea vs Manchester United tomorrow, what TV channel is it on and what are the latest odds?
What is it? It is the 2018 FA Cup final at Wembley, the 12th at the new stadium. Manchester United will take on Chelsea, who are looking to complete an FA Cup double after their women's team beat Arsenal. When is it? It is this weekend. Saturday May 19, the same day as the Royal Wedding. What time is kick-off? Kick-off is scheduled for 5:15pm, a slightly earlier start time than last year's final between Chelsea and Arsenal, which kicked-off at 5.30pm. What TV channel is it on? BT Sport and BBC have shared FA Cup coverage this season, and you will be able to watch the final via both broadcasters. Alternatively, you can follow all the build up and live action with our Telegraph Sport live blog. Gary Lineker will present BBC coverage of the FA Cup final Credit: BBC Does it clash with the Royal Wedding? Though the two events are on the same day, there will be no clash between the ceremony at Windsor Castle and the final at Wembley. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are due to be married in at noon, with the Cup final kicking-off later in the afternoon. So football-loving royalists can have their cake and eat it. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, usually attends the final and presents the cup to the winning captain in his role as Football Association president. It remains to be seen if he will dash across London to fulfil both obligations. Prince William might have to divide his time on May 19 Credit: PA Is the video assistant referee system in use? Yes. For the first time ever in the final of football's oldest cup competition VAR will be utilised and promises to be one of the day's most contentious talking points. Had the system been in place last year, Alexis Sanchez's opening goal for Arsenal would likely have been ruled out for handball. VAR has been used throughout the tournament with mixed success Credit: Getty Images Is it the final game of the season? Liverpool aside, who feature in the Champions League final a week later, it will be the last time we see Premier League teams in action in the 2017-18 season. There are Football League play-off finals at Wembley the following weekend. World Cup predictor What happens if the game is a draw? The days of multiple replays in the final are long gone. If the match finishes as a draw after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of regular extra-time followed by penalties if the scores still level. Is there a place in Europe at stake? Winning the FA Cup does guarantee a place in the Europa League group stages, but if the winner already has a place in European competition via league position then the seventh placed team in the Premier League will qualify instead. With Manchester United and Chelsea both already guaranteed European football, seventh-placed Burnley are now guaranteed a place in next season's Europa League. What are they saying? Chelsea manager Antonio Conte admits his future at the club will become clearer after the FA Cup final. "It is very difficult to comment on speculation because there has been speculation around me from the start of the season, after the first game against Burnley. "This speculation is not important to me because my focus is only to do my work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start until the end. "There are only two weeks and this season will finish, and you will know if there is a different situation or if you see me again next season. "In this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I like to work with my players to build something important but in our job the final result is very important." Conte looks likely to leave after the FA Cup final - irrespective of the result Credit: Getty Images Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho remains uncertain on whether striker Romelu Lukaku will be fit to take part in the Wembley showpiece. Lukaku picked up a knock after colliding with Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. "I don't think it's something, or I hope it's not, that in this moment keeps him immediately out of a game that is in a few weeks' time. "But I don't know. I never, when I finish a game and a player is injured, immediately go for good or bad news. I wait a bit more. "I don't know if he is going to be out, or if he's not okay. He wants to play all the time. He is never tired and, when he has small things, he doesn't care. He still wants to play." What are the latest odds? Chelsea 19/10 Manchester United 8/5 FA Cup final Betting Offer | 60/1 Chelsea v 50/1 Man Utd What is our prediction? Speculation over Antonio Conte's future - and Chelsea's recent performances - will help Manchester United, whose manager Jose Mourinho has an impressive cup final record. Prediction: Manchester 2 Chelsea 0
Joe Hart has joined Jack Wilshere in bemoaning his omission from England's World Cup squad, saying it has been "hard to take". The 31 year-old has been left out of the 23-man group for the finals in Russia by national team boss Gareth Southgate, with Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope his preferred goalkeepers. Hart was one of England's key players in qualifying but after falling out of favour at club level with first Manchester City and then West Ham, he now finds himself on the outside looking in. He wrote on Instagram: "Not going to lie, I'm gutted. After two years of trying to make the most of a really tough situation, this is hard to take." Hart played every minute of England's first nine qualifiers as the team secured their place in Russia, with Butland starting the final match against Lithuania. England squad: A bold selection with a clear sense of direction Hart added: "I'm proud to have put in the graft and play every minute to qualify with the team and have a really important input in that outcome. "I know what I bring to the team, but it is what it is. Good luck to the team out there, the players know that even though I won't be there, I will have my England shirt on as a fan this time and supporting all the way. No fear, go and smash it." Hart is not even on Southgate's standby list - with Burnley's Tom Heaton the only goalkeeper in that group. On Thursday Wilshere declared that he should be in Southgate's England squad. World Cup 2018 | All you need to know "Think its about time I had my say, " Wilshere posted on his personal Twitter account. "It goes without saying that I'm naturally incredibly disappointed to have been left out of the England squad for the World Cup. "I've felt fit, sharp and strong all season and believe I should be in the squad! And given the chance I could have made a real impact. "However, I have to respect the manager's decision and would like to wish the whole squad all the very best for the tournament. I will always be an England fan and will be supporting the boys with the rest of the nation."
Joe Hart joins Jack Wilshere in bemoaning his omission from England's World Cup squad
Joe Hart has joined Jack Wilshere in bemoaning his omission from England's World Cup squad, saying it has been "hard to take". The 31 year-old has been left out of the 23-man group for the finals in Russia by national team boss Gareth Southgate, with Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope his preferred goalkeepers. Hart was one of England's key players in qualifying but after falling out of favour at club level with first Manchester City and then West Ham, he now finds himself on the outside looking in. He wrote on Instagram: "Not going to lie, I'm gutted. After two years of trying to make the most of a really tough situation, this is hard to take." Hart played every minute of England's first nine qualifiers as the team secured their place in Russia, with Butland starting the final match against Lithuania. England squad: A bold selection with a clear sense of direction Hart added: "I'm proud to have put in the graft and play every minute to qualify with the team and have a really important input in that outcome. "I know what I bring to the team, but it is what it is. Good luck to the team out there, the players know that even though I won't be there, I will have my England shirt on as a fan this time and supporting all the way. No fear, go and smash it." Hart is not even on Southgate's standby list - with Burnley's Tom Heaton the only goalkeeper in that group. On Thursday Wilshere declared that he should be in Southgate's England squad. World Cup 2018 | All you need to know "Think its about time I had my say, " Wilshere posted on his personal Twitter account. "It goes without saying that I'm naturally incredibly disappointed to have been left out of the England squad for the World Cup. "I've felt fit, sharp and strong all season and believe I should be in the squad! And given the chance I could have made a real impact. "However, I have to respect the manager's decision and would like to wish the whole squad all the very best for the tournament. I will always be an England fan and will be supporting the boys with the rest of the nation."
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley vs West Ham United - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - October 14, 2017 West Ham United co chairman David Sullivan before the match REUTERS/Peter Powell
Premier League - Burnley vs West Ham United
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Burnley vs West Ham United - Turf Moor, Burnley, Britain - October 14, 2017 West Ham United co chairman David Sullivan before the match REUTERS/Peter Powell
Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal vs Burnley - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - May 6, 2018 Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette reacts Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
Premier League - Arsenal vs Burnley
Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal vs Burnley - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - May 6, 2018 Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette reacts Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
Supermarket giant Asda has rung up its fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth, shrugging off the tough retail climate as it gears up for a proposed £15bn merger with Sainsbury’s. Britain’s third biggest grocer clocked a 3.4pc rise in like-for-like sales during the first three months of the year. Stripping out the impact of Easter, which fell during the period, like-for-like sales rose by a more modest 1pc. Net sales also expanded by 3.7pc, while its online grocery arm and George.com clothing business saw sales expand by 8.3pc and 21.9pc respectively. The update comes as Sainsbury’s and Asda shook the grocery sector last month by unveiling a mammoth deal to create a grocery giant with a market share larger than Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco. Asda last month announced a deal with Sainsbury's Credit: OLI SCARFF Roger Burnley, the chief executive and president of Asda, said the performance represented “genuine momentum” for the retailer. He said: “During the first three months of the year, we have continued to invest sensibly where it matters most to our customers with lower prices, innovation in our own brand and further improving their shopping experience whether in store or online. “Whilst we are not complacent, we are positive about our growing momentum and excited by the opportunity that our proposed merger with Sainsbury’s offers to accelerate our successful strategy and go further, faster.” The Walmart-owned firm launched 216 new own brand products, added 29 new "free from" lines, introduced scan-and-go technology to 100 stores and extended price cuts to 667 lines over the period. It also moved to bolster its online shopping experience by introducing a Walmart designed click and collect system. Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said he was pleased with the response of staff following the announcement of the Sainsbury’s-Asda mega merger. Sainsbury's-Asda Comment Puff The two supermarkets have vowed to slash prices on everyday items by 10pc, and stump up cost savings of £500m, if the deal wins regulatory backing. The move would hand Asda-owner Walmart around £3bn in cash and a 41pc stake in the combined business. However, the two supermarkets are expected to be forced to sell some of their 2,800 UK stores to satisfy competition concerns surrounding the deal. Rival supermarket chain Morrisons, the third biggest UK grocer, announced last week that it booked a 3.6pc rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel during the first three months of the year.
Asda notches up four consecutive quarters of sales growth
Supermarket giant Asda has rung up its fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth, shrugging off the tough retail climate as it gears up for a proposed £15bn merger with Sainsbury’s. Britain’s third biggest grocer clocked a 3.4pc rise in like-for-like sales during the first three months of the year. Stripping out the impact of Easter, which fell during the period, like-for-like sales rose by a more modest 1pc. Net sales also expanded by 3.7pc, while its online grocery arm and George.com clothing business saw sales expand by 8.3pc and 21.9pc respectively. The update comes as Sainsbury’s and Asda shook the grocery sector last month by unveiling a mammoth deal to create a grocery giant with a market share larger than Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco. Asda last month announced a deal with Sainsbury's Credit: OLI SCARFF Roger Burnley, the chief executive and president of Asda, said the performance represented “genuine momentum” for the retailer. He said: “During the first three months of the year, we have continued to invest sensibly where it matters most to our customers with lower prices, innovation in our own brand and further improving their shopping experience whether in store or online. “Whilst we are not complacent, we are positive about our growing momentum and excited by the opportunity that our proposed merger with Sainsbury’s offers to accelerate our successful strategy and go further, faster.” The Walmart-owned firm launched 216 new own brand products, added 29 new "free from" lines, introduced scan-and-go technology to 100 stores and extended price cuts to 667 lines over the period. It also moved to bolster its online shopping experience by introducing a Walmart designed click and collect system. Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said he was pleased with the response of staff following the announcement of the Sainsbury’s-Asda mega merger. Sainsbury's-Asda Comment Puff The two supermarkets have vowed to slash prices on everyday items by 10pc, and stump up cost savings of £500m, if the deal wins regulatory backing. The move would hand Asda-owner Walmart around £3bn in cash and a 41pc stake in the combined business. However, the two supermarkets are expected to be forced to sell some of their 2,800 UK stores to satisfy competition concerns surrounding the deal. Rival supermarket chain Morrisons, the third biggest UK grocer, announced last week that it booked a 3.6pc rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel during the first three months of the year.
Supermarket giant Asda has rung up its fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth, shrugging off the tough retail climate as it gears up for a proposed £15bn merger with Sainsbury’s. Britain’s third biggest grocer clocked a 3.4pc rise in like-for-like sales during the first three months of the year. Stripping out the impact of Easter, which fell during the period, like-for-like sales rose by a more modest 1pc. Net sales also expanded by 3.7pc, while its online grocery arm and George.com clothing business saw sales expand by 8.3pc and 21.9pc respectively. The update comes as Sainsbury’s and Asda shook the grocery sector last month by unveiling a mammoth deal to create a grocery giant with a market share larger than Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco. Asda last month announced a deal with Sainsbury's Credit: OLI SCARFF Roger Burnley, the chief executive and president of Asda, said the performance represented “genuine momentum” for the retailer. He said: “During the first three months of the year, we have continued to invest sensibly where it matters most to our customers with lower prices, innovation in our own brand and further improving their shopping experience whether in store or online. “Whilst we are not complacent, we are positive about our growing momentum and excited by the opportunity that our proposed merger with Sainsbury’s offers to accelerate our successful strategy and go further, faster.” The Walmart-owned firm launched 216 new own brand products, added 29 new "free from" lines, introduced scan-and-go technology to 100 stores and extended price cuts to 667 lines over the period. It also moved to bolster its online shopping experience by introducing a Walmart designed click and collect system. Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said he was pleased with the response of staff following the announcement of the Sainsbury’s-Asda mega merger. Sainsbury's-Asda Comment Puff The two supermarkets have vowed to slash prices on everyday items by 10pc, and stump up cost savings of £500m, if the deal wins regulatory backing. The move would hand Asda-owner Walmart around £3bn in cash and a 41pc stake in the combined business. However, the two supermarkets are expected to be forced to sell some of their 2,800 UK stores to satisfy competition concerns surrounding the deal. Rival supermarket chain Morrisons, the third biggest UK grocer, announced last week that it booked a 3.6pc rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel during the first three months of the year.
Asda notches up four consecutive quarters of sales growth
Supermarket giant Asda has rung up its fourth consecutive quarter of sales growth, shrugging off the tough retail climate as it gears up for a proposed £15bn merger with Sainsbury’s. Britain’s third biggest grocer clocked a 3.4pc rise in like-for-like sales during the first three months of the year. Stripping out the impact of Easter, which fell during the period, like-for-like sales rose by a more modest 1pc. Net sales also expanded by 3.7pc, while its online grocery arm and George.com clothing business saw sales expand by 8.3pc and 21.9pc respectively. The update comes as Sainsbury’s and Asda shook the grocery sector last month by unveiling a mammoth deal to create a grocery giant with a market share larger than Britain’s biggest supermarket Tesco. Asda last month announced a deal with Sainsbury's Credit: OLI SCARFF Roger Burnley, the chief executive and president of Asda, said the performance represented “genuine momentum” for the retailer. He said: “During the first three months of the year, we have continued to invest sensibly where it matters most to our customers with lower prices, innovation in our own brand and further improving their shopping experience whether in store or online. “Whilst we are not complacent, we are positive about our growing momentum and excited by the opportunity that our proposed merger with Sainsbury’s offers to accelerate our successful strategy and go further, faster.” The Walmart-owned firm launched 216 new own brand products, added 29 new "free from" lines, introduced scan-and-go technology to 100 stores and extended price cuts to 667 lines over the period. It also moved to bolster its online shopping experience by introducing a Walmart designed click and collect system. Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon said he was pleased with the response of staff following the announcement of the Sainsbury’s-Asda mega merger. Sainsbury's-Asda Comment Puff The two supermarkets have vowed to slash prices on everyday items by 10pc, and stump up cost savings of £500m, if the deal wins regulatory backing. The move would hand Asda-owner Walmart around £3bn in cash and a 41pc stake in the combined business. However, the two supermarkets are expected to be forced to sell some of their 2,800 UK stores to satisfy competition concerns surrounding the deal. Rival supermarket chain Morrisons, the third biggest UK grocer, announced last week that it booked a 3.6pc rise in like-for-like sales excluding fuel during the first three months of the year.
A maths teacher at Lee Ingleby’s state school warned him he’d never make it as an actor. For the past couple of decades, Ingleby has been busily proving him wrong. With a string of television credits to his name, including the critically acclaimed family drama The A Word (in which he played the father of an autistic boy), Inspector George Gently (as George Bacchus) and Line of Duty (playing Nick Huntley), there’s no doubt the lad from Burnley has made good. There’s also been film work, including roles in Master and Commander and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and stage performances in National Theatre productions. All this week he has been starring alongside Hermione Norris in a four-part ITV drama, Innocent, playing a father released from prison on an apparent technicality after being convicted of murdering his wife. It’s been described as a “suspenseful thriller”, the sort of dark, gritty stuff that Ingleby, 42, seems drawn to. That said, he also does the voice of Bob the Builder, so there’s no typecasting this one. We meet near the top of the ITV building on London’s South Bank in a room offering dizzying views of the city Ingleby settled in back in the mid-nineties, knowing not a single soul there. “It was a culture shock because I’d never lived in a big city,” he recalls, in an accent that has not lost its Lancashire edges. “I didn’t know how it worked and couldn’t understand why no one would give me the time of day on the Tube. It’s a thing you very quickly adapt to, I suppose.” There’s talk of how there aren’t enough working class roles, but I think they are there. It's not a class warLee Ingleby Living in a small shared bedsit in Chiswick, he trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art courtesy of a grant from Lancashire County Council, without which he could never have afforded to go. Although he’d seldom been happy behind a school desk with a textbook before him, a career in acting had never occurred to him until his drama teacher handed him the prospectus for a local drama college and urged him to apply. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says. “I just couldn’t concentrate as a kid. I hadn’t even entertained the thought [of becoming an actor].” This, despite his enjoyment of amateur dramatics, which he did as a hobby with his father and one of his two older sisters. “I was 11 and they said ‘Why don’t you come along?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, alright then,’” he says, slipping into a moody teenage voice. “I was totally shy but weirdly able to get up on stage and perform. I was a bit spotty, wore specs and had greasy curtains to hide my face. I wasn’t the ideal candidate for drama school.” Lee Ingleby and Hermione Norris in ITV drama series, Innocent Credit: Steffan Hill/ Television Stills Fortunately for him, his drama teacher thought otherwise. “When my teacher said ‘You should think about doing acting,’ I said: ‘Oh God, yeah! What do I do?’ And it just all fell into place, really.” Growing up in an end-of-terrace house, the youngest of three children to a mother who worked as an auxiliary nurse on a geriatric ward and an engineer father, it could quite easily not have done so. The last few years have seen the meteoric rise of British actors from public school backgrounds: from Eddie Redmayne, Damian Lewis, Dominic West and Tom Hiddleston (all Old Etonians), to Benedict Cumberbatch and Laurence Fox (both Old Harrovians), our acting establishment, it’s been noted, is currently not a little upper-crust. Working class actors, meanwhile, are feared by some to be a disappearing breed. So is it genuinely harder to make it in acting if you don’t have the old school tie? In Ingleby’s view, it’s more about money than connections. “It’s just affording to go [to drama school]. Living in London is not cheap,” he points out. “A friend of mine I was at college with got into the same drama school as me a year later and the council didn’t give out any grants that year so he couldn’t go. He was talented but didn’t get the opportunity, so I was lucky there. It’s not a class war, it’s just about opportunity. That’s where it’s hard. There’s talk of how there aren’t enough working class roles, but I think they are there.” My girlfriend will kill me for talking about her. She’s very anonymous. I can’t name names...Lee Ingleby He’s snapped up a fair few himself, after all. Brought up on a television diet of Bread and Brookside, Alan Bleasdale drama serials and Our Friends in the North, he describes his own work as “not glitzy at all” and prefers “to sit in front of the telly with my girlfriend and my cat and have a night in” than to hang out at showbiz parties. He’s on strict orders not to speak about his girlfriend, though. “She’ll kill me for talking about it,” he admits. All I can extract on the subject is she works in the City, they’ve been together several years and he hopes to start a family one day. “She’s very anonymous,” he says mysteriously. “I can’t name names.” He’s evidently more comfortable talking about fictional relationships - those in the dramas he has starred in - than his own. Especially those in The A Word, a show described in a Telegraph review as “an unalloyed triumph.” “I was really affected by it,” he says. “I loved the family I was playing and loved talking to families that influenced what we were doing, to the point that I reached out to the National Autistic Society and asked if there was anything I could do. I just wanted to say I care.” With acting, the insecurity is horrible. You’ve got to have a suit of armourLee Ingleby He is still involved with the charity now. “Pete [Bowker, the writer of the series] must have felt immensely proud because if you can change someone’s view [of autism] just for a second, it’s really worthwhile.” Ingleby has had a stab at writing himself - but “unsuccessfully”, he says. “I’ve got a few stories in my head, but when you give it a go you realise how brilliant writers are and how things are meticulously planned. It gives you an appreciation of how hard it is.” Since we’ve covered the thorny topic of class, I probe him for this thoughts on the gender pay gap in acting. He immediately highlights the reported difference in remuneration between The Crown actors Claire Foy and Matt Smith. A producer revealed in March that Foy, who starred as the Queen in the hugely popular Netflix series, had been paid less than Smith, who played Prince Philip, because Smith was better known. “It’s a funny one because she was the out-and-out lead by a long way so she should have been a tier above really, but [Smith] was banking on the fact he’d done as much as he’d done and I suppose his fee was at a certain price,” reflects Ingleby. “What they should have done was gone: ‘Ok, well we’ll match that with Claire.’” Perhaps they should bring him in to sort out future pay negotiations between his fellow TV stars. Except that clearly he’s happiest in front of the camera, doing the only job he’s ever wanted to do. Not that it comes without its moments of worry, of course. “You get bouts of time off and your insecurity gets the better of you,” he says. “You think, ‘What if I never work again, what do I do then? [The insecurity] is horrible. I don’t think it ever goes away. You’ve got to have a suit of armour.” • Innocent concludes tonight on ITV and is available on the ITV Player
Lee Ingleby: There are plenty of roles out there for working-class actors
A maths teacher at Lee Ingleby’s state school warned him he’d never make it as an actor. For the past couple of decades, Ingleby has been busily proving him wrong. With a string of television credits to his name, including the critically acclaimed family drama The A Word (in which he played the father of an autistic boy), Inspector George Gently (as George Bacchus) and Line of Duty (playing Nick Huntley), there’s no doubt the lad from Burnley has made good. There’s also been film work, including roles in Master and Commander and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and stage performances in National Theatre productions. All this week he has been starring alongside Hermione Norris in a four-part ITV drama, Innocent, playing a father released from prison on an apparent technicality after being convicted of murdering his wife. It’s been described as a “suspenseful thriller”, the sort of dark, gritty stuff that Ingleby, 42, seems drawn to. That said, he also does the voice of Bob the Builder, so there’s no typecasting this one. We meet near the top of the ITV building on London’s South Bank in a room offering dizzying views of the city Ingleby settled in back in the mid-nineties, knowing not a single soul there. “It was a culture shock because I’d never lived in a big city,” he recalls, in an accent that has not lost its Lancashire edges. “I didn’t know how it worked and couldn’t understand why no one would give me the time of day on the Tube. It’s a thing you very quickly adapt to, I suppose.” There’s talk of how there aren’t enough working class roles, but I think they are there. It's not a class warLee Ingleby Living in a small shared bedsit in Chiswick, he trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art courtesy of a grant from Lancashire County Council, without which he could never have afforded to go. Although he’d seldom been happy behind a school desk with a textbook before him, a career in acting had never occurred to him until his drama teacher handed him the prospectus for a local drama college and urged him to apply. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says. “I just couldn’t concentrate as a kid. I hadn’t even entertained the thought [of becoming an actor].” This, despite his enjoyment of amateur dramatics, which he did as a hobby with his father and one of his two older sisters. “I was 11 and they said ‘Why don’t you come along?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, alright then,’” he says, slipping into a moody teenage voice. “I was totally shy but weirdly able to get up on stage and perform. I was a bit spotty, wore specs and had greasy curtains to hide my face. I wasn’t the ideal candidate for drama school.” Lee Ingleby and Hermione Norris in ITV drama series, Innocent Credit: Steffan Hill/ Television Stills Fortunately for him, his drama teacher thought otherwise. “When my teacher said ‘You should think about doing acting,’ I said: ‘Oh God, yeah! What do I do?’ And it just all fell into place, really.” Growing up in an end-of-terrace house, the youngest of three children to a mother who worked as an auxiliary nurse on a geriatric ward and an engineer father, it could quite easily not have done so. The last few years have seen the meteoric rise of British actors from public school backgrounds: from Eddie Redmayne, Damian Lewis, Dominic West and Tom Hiddleston (all Old Etonians), to Benedict Cumberbatch and Laurence Fox (both Old Harrovians), our acting establishment, it’s been noted, is currently not a little upper-crust. Working class actors, meanwhile, are feared by some to be a disappearing breed. So is it genuinely harder to make it in acting if you don’t have the old school tie? In Ingleby’s view, it’s more about money than connections. “It’s just affording to go [to drama school]. Living in London is not cheap,” he points out. “A friend of mine I was at college with got into the same drama school as me a year later and the council didn’t give out any grants that year so he couldn’t go. He was talented but didn’t get the opportunity, so I was lucky there. It’s not a class war, it’s just about opportunity. That’s where it’s hard. There’s talk of how there aren’t enough working class roles, but I think they are there.” My girlfriend will kill me for talking about her. She’s very anonymous. I can’t name names...Lee Ingleby He’s snapped up a fair few himself, after all. Brought up on a television diet of Bread and Brookside, Alan Bleasdale drama serials and Our Friends in the North, he describes his own work as “not glitzy at all” and prefers “to sit in front of the telly with my girlfriend and my cat and have a night in” than to hang out at showbiz parties. He’s on strict orders not to speak about his girlfriend, though. “She’ll kill me for talking about it,” he admits. All I can extract on the subject is she works in the City, they’ve been together several years and he hopes to start a family one day. “She’s very anonymous,” he says mysteriously. “I can’t name names.” He’s evidently more comfortable talking about fictional relationships - those in the dramas he has starred in - than his own. Especially those in The A Word, a show described in a Telegraph review as “an unalloyed triumph.” “I was really affected by it,” he says. “I loved the family I was playing and loved talking to families that influenced what we were doing, to the point that I reached out to the National Autistic Society and asked if there was anything I could do. I just wanted to say I care.” With acting, the insecurity is horrible. You’ve got to have a suit of armourLee Ingleby He is still involved with the charity now. “Pete [Bowker, the writer of the series] must have felt immensely proud because if you can change someone’s view [of autism] just for a second, it’s really worthwhile.” Ingleby has had a stab at writing himself - but “unsuccessfully”, he says. “I’ve got a few stories in my head, but when you give it a go you realise how brilliant writers are and how things are meticulously planned. It gives you an appreciation of how hard it is.” Since we’ve covered the thorny topic of class, I probe him for this thoughts on the gender pay gap in acting. He immediately highlights the reported difference in remuneration between The Crown actors Claire Foy and Matt Smith. A producer revealed in March that Foy, who starred as the Queen in the hugely popular Netflix series, had been paid less than Smith, who played Prince Philip, because Smith was better known. “It’s a funny one because she was the out-and-out lead by a long way so she should have been a tier above really, but [Smith] was banking on the fact he’d done as much as he’d done and I suppose his fee was at a certain price,” reflects Ingleby. “What they should have done was gone: ‘Ok, well we’ll match that with Claire.’” Perhaps they should bring him in to sort out future pay negotiations between his fellow TV stars. Except that clearly he’s happiest in front of the camera, doing the only job he’s ever wanted to do. Not that it comes without its moments of worry, of course. “You get bouts of time off and your insecurity gets the better of you,” he says. “You think, ‘What if I never work again, what do I do then? [The insecurity] is horrible. I don’t think it ever goes away. You’ve got to have a suit of armour.” • Innocent concludes tonight on ITV and is available on the ITV Player
A maths teacher at Lee Ingleby’s state school warned him he’d never make it as an actor. For the past couple of decades, Ingleby has been busily proving him wrong. With a string of television credits to his name, including the critically acclaimed family drama The A Word (in which he played the father of an autistic boy), Inspector George Gently (as George Bacchus) and Line of Duty (playing Nick Huntley), there’s no doubt the lad from Burnley has made good. There’s also been film work, including roles in Master and Commander and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and stage performances in National Theatre productions. All this week he has been starring alongside Hermione Norris in a four-part ITV drama, Innocent, playing a father released from prison on an apparent technicality after being convicted of murdering his wife. It’s been described as a “suspenseful thriller”, the sort of dark, gritty stuff that Ingleby, 42, seems drawn to. That said, he also does the voice of Bob the Builder, so there’s no typecasting this one. We meet near the top of the ITV building on London’s South Bank in a room offering dizzying views of the city Ingleby settled in back in the mid-nineties, knowing not a single soul there. “It was a culture shock because I’d never lived in a big city,” he recalls, in an accent that has not lost its Lancashire edges. “I didn’t know how it worked and couldn’t understand why no one would give me the time of day on the Tube. It’s a thing you very quickly adapt to, I suppose.” There’s talk of how there aren’t enough working class roles, but I think they are there. It's not a class warLee Ingleby Living in a small shared bedsit in Chiswick, he trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art courtesy of a grant from Lancashire County Council, without which he could never have afforded to go. Although he’d seldom been happy behind a school desk with a textbook before him, a career in acting had never occurred to him until his drama teacher handed him the prospectus for a local drama college and urged him to apply. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says. “I just couldn’t concentrate as a kid. I hadn’t even entertained the thought [of becoming an actor].” This, despite his enjoyment of amateur dramatics, which he did as a hobby with his father and one of his two older sisters. “I was 11 and they said ‘Why don’t you come along?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, alright then,’” he says, slipping into a moody teenage voice. “I was totally shy but weirdly able to get up on stage and perform. I was a bit spotty, wore specs and had greasy curtains to hide my face. I wasn’t the ideal candidate for drama school.” Lee Ingleby and Hermione Norris in ITV drama series, Innocent Credit: Steffan Hill/ Television Stills Fortunately for him, his drama teacher thought otherwise. “When my teacher said ‘You should think about doing acting,’ I said: ‘Oh God, yeah! What do I do?’ And it just all fell into place, really.” Growing up in an end-of-terrace house, the youngest of three children to a mother who worked as an auxiliary nurse on a geriatric ward and an engineer father, it could quite easily not have done so. The last few years have seen the meteoric rise of British actors from public school backgrounds: from Eddie Redmayne, Damian Lewis, Dominic West and Tom Hiddleston (all Old Etonians), to Benedict Cumberbatch and Laurence Fox (both Old Harrovians), our acting establishment, it’s been noted, is currently not a little upper-crust. Working class actors, meanwhile, are feared by some to be a disappearing breed. So is it genuinely harder to make it in acting if you don’t have the old school tie? In Ingleby’s view, it’s more about money than connections. “It’s just affording to go [to drama school]. Living in London is not cheap,” he points out. “A friend of mine I was at college with got into the same drama school as me a year later and the council didn’t give out any grants that year so he couldn’t go. He was talented but didn’t get the opportunity, so I was lucky there. It’s not a class war, it’s just about opportunity. That’s where it’s hard. There’s talk of how there aren’t enough working class roles, but I think they are there.” My girlfriend will kill me for talking about her. She’s very anonymous. I can’t name names...Lee Ingleby He’s snapped up a fair few himself, after all. Brought up on a television diet of Bread and Brookside, Alan Bleasdale drama serials and Our Friends in the North, he describes his own work as “not glitzy at all” and prefers “to sit in front of the telly with my girlfriend and my cat and have a night in” than to hang out at showbiz parties. He’s on strict orders not to speak about his girlfriend, though. “She’ll kill me for talking about it,” he admits. All I can extract on the subject is she works in the City, they’ve been together several years and he hopes to start a family one day. “She’s very anonymous,” he says mysteriously. “I can’t name names.” He’s evidently more comfortable talking about fictional relationships - those in the dramas he has starred in - than his own. Especially those in The A Word, a show described in a Telegraph review as “an unalloyed triumph.” “I was really affected by it,” he says. “I loved the family I was playing and loved talking to families that influenced what we were doing, to the point that I reached out to the National Autistic Society and asked if there was anything I could do. I just wanted to say I care.” With acting, the insecurity is horrible. You’ve got to have a suit of armourLee Ingleby He is still involved with the charity now. “Pete [Bowker, the writer of the series] must have felt immensely proud because if you can change someone’s view [of autism] just for a second, it’s really worthwhile.” Ingleby has had a stab at writing himself - but “unsuccessfully”, he says. “I’ve got a few stories in my head, but when you give it a go you realise how brilliant writers are and how things are meticulously planned. It gives you an appreciation of how hard it is.” Since we’ve covered the thorny topic of class, I probe him for this thoughts on the gender pay gap in acting. He immediately highlights the reported difference in remuneration between The Crown actors Claire Foy and Matt Smith. A producer revealed in March that Foy, who starred as the Queen in the hugely popular Netflix series, had been paid less than Smith, who played Prince Philip, because Smith was better known. “It’s a funny one because she was the out-and-out lead by a long way so she should have been a tier above really, but [Smith] was banking on the fact he’d done as much as he’d done and I suppose his fee was at a certain price,” reflects Ingleby. “What they should have done was gone: ‘Ok, well we’ll match that with Claire.’” Perhaps they should bring him in to sort out future pay negotiations between his fellow TV stars. Except that clearly he’s happiest in front of the camera, doing the only job he’s ever wanted to do. Not that it comes without its moments of worry, of course. “You get bouts of time off and your insecurity gets the better of you,” he says. “You think, ‘What if I never work again, what do I do then? [The insecurity] is horrible. I don’t think it ever goes away. You’ve got to have a suit of armour.” • Innocent concludes tonight on ITV and is available on the ITV Player
Lee Ingleby: There are plenty of roles out there for working-class actors
A maths teacher at Lee Ingleby’s state school warned him he’d never make it as an actor. For the past couple of decades, Ingleby has been busily proving him wrong. With a string of television credits to his name, including the critically acclaimed family drama The A Word (in which he played the father of an autistic boy), Inspector George Gently (as George Bacchus) and Line of Duty (playing Nick Huntley), there’s no doubt the lad from Burnley has made good. There’s also been film work, including roles in Master and Commander and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and stage performances in National Theatre productions. All this week he has been starring alongside Hermione Norris in a four-part ITV drama, Innocent, playing a father released from prison on an apparent technicality after being convicted of murdering his wife. It’s been described as a “suspenseful thriller”, the sort of dark, gritty stuff that Ingleby, 42, seems drawn to. That said, he also does the voice of Bob the Builder, so there’s no typecasting this one. We meet near the top of the ITV building on London’s South Bank in a room offering dizzying views of the city Ingleby settled in back in the mid-nineties, knowing not a single soul there. “It was a culture shock because I’d never lived in a big city,” he recalls, in an accent that has not lost its Lancashire edges. “I didn’t know how it worked and couldn’t understand why no one would give me the time of day on the Tube. It’s a thing you very quickly adapt to, I suppose.” There’s talk of how there aren’t enough working class roles, but I think they are there. It's not a class warLee Ingleby Living in a small shared bedsit in Chiswick, he trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art courtesy of a grant from Lancashire County Council, without which he could never have afforded to go. Although he’d seldom been happy behind a school desk with a textbook before him, a career in acting had never occurred to him until his drama teacher handed him the prospectus for a local drama college and urged him to apply. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says. “I just couldn’t concentrate as a kid. I hadn’t even entertained the thought [of becoming an actor].” This, despite his enjoyment of amateur dramatics, which he did as a hobby with his father and one of his two older sisters. “I was 11 and they said ‘Why don’t you come along?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, alright then,’” he says, slipping into a moody teenage voice. “I was totally shy but weirdly able to get up on stage and perform. I was a bit spotty, wore specs and had greasy curtains to hide my face. I wasn’t the ideal candidate for drama school.” Lee Ingleby and Hermione Norris in ITV drama series, Innocent Credit: Steffan Hill/ Television Stills Fortunately for him, his drama teacher thought otherwise. “When my teacher said ‘You should think about doing acting,’ I said: ‘Oh God, yeah! What do I do?’ And it just all fell into place, really.” Growing up in an end-of-terrace house, the youngest of three children to a mother who worked as an auxiliary nurse on a geriatric ward and an engineer father, it could quite easily not have done so. The last few years have seen the meteoric rise of British actors from public school backgrounds: from Eddie Redmayne, Damian Lewis, Dominic West and Tom Hiddleston (all Old Etonians), to Benedict Cumberbatch and Laurence Fox (both Old Harrovians), our acting establishment, it’s been noted, is currently not a little upper-crust. Working class actors, meanwhile, are feared by some to be a disappearing breed. So is it genuinely harder to make it in acting if you don’t have the old school tie? In Ingleby’s view, it’s more about money than connections. “It’s just affording to go [to drama school]. Living in London is not cheap,” he points out. “A friend of mine I was at college with got into the same drama school as me a year later and the council didn’t give out any grants that year so he couldn’t go. He was talented but didn’t get the opportunity, so I was lucky there. It’s not a class war, it’s just about opportunity. That’s where it’s hard. There’s talk of how there aren’t enough working class roles, but I think they are there.” My girlfriend will kill me for talking about her. She’s very anonymous. I can’t name names...Lee Ingleby He’s snapped up a fair few himself, after all. Brought up on a television diet of Bread and Brookside, Alan Bleasdale drama serials and Our Friends in the North, he describes his own work as “not glitzy at all” and prefers “to sit in front of the telly with my girlfriend and my cat and have a night in” than to hang out at showbiz parties. He’s on strict orders not to speak about his girlfriend, though. “She’ll kill me for talking about it,” he admits. All I can extract on the subject is she works in the City, they’ve been together several years and he hopes to start a family one day. “She’s very anonymous,” he says mysteriously. “I can’t name names.” He’s evidently more comfortable talking about fictional relationships - those in the dramas he has starred in - than his own. Especially those in The A Word, a show described in a Telegraph review as “an unalloyed triumph.” “I was really affected by it,” he says. “I loved the family I was playing and loved talking to families that influenced what we were doing, to the point that I reached out to the National Autistic Society and asked if there was anything I could do. I just wanted to say I care.” With acting, the insecurity is horrible. You’ve got to have a suit of armourLee Ingleby He is still involved with the charity now. “Pete [Bowker, the writer of the series] must have felt immensely proud because if you can change someone’s view [of autism] just for a second, it’s really worthwhile.” Ingleby has had a stab at writing himself - but “unsuccessfully”, he says. “I’ve got a few stories in my head, but when you give it a go you realise how brilliant writers are and how things are meticulously planned. It gives you an appreciation of how hard it is.” Since we’ve covered the thorny topic of class, I probe him for this thoughts on the gender pay gap in acting. He immediately highlights the reported difference in remuneration between The Crown actors Claire Foy and Matt Smith. A producer revealed in March that Foy, who starred as the Queen in the hugely popular Netflix series, had been paid less than Smith, who played Prince Philip, because Smith was better known. “It’s a funny one because she was the out-and-out lead by a long way so she should have been a tier above really, but [Smith] was banking on the fact he’d done as much as he’d done and I suppose his fee was at a certain price,” reflects Ingleby. “What they should have done was gone: ‘Ok, well we’ll match that with Claire.’” Perhaps they should bring him in to sort out future pay negotiations between his fellow TV stars. Except that clearly he’s happiest in front of the camera, doing the only job he’s ever wanted to do. Not that it comes without its moments of worry, of course. “You get bouts of time off and your insecurity gets the better of you,” he says. “You think, ‘What if I never work again, what do I do then? [The insecurity] is horrible. I don’t think it ever goes away. You’ve got to have a suit of armour.” • Innocent concludes tonight on ITV and is available on the ITV Player
West Ham United are considering an approach for Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez as the club’s owners look to replace David Moyes with a “high-calibre” figure within the next 10 days. The club announced on Wednesday that Moyes had left the club after little more than six months in charge at the London Stadium, despite securing the club’s Premier League future with two games to spare. Benitez features prominently on a list of names drawn up by the West Ham hierarchy, although there is concern over a £6m buyout clause in the Spaniard’s contract. David Sullivan, the West Ham co-owner, held talks with Shakhtar Donetsk manager Paulo Fonseca on Monday, although Fonseca is understood to have indicated that he would prefer to remain in Ukraine. Sources in Portugal have suggested that the 45-year-old has chosen to renew his contract with Shakhtar. David Moyes has left West Ham Credit: REUTERS It is also understood that Unai Emery, the former Paris Saint-Germain manager who left the French champions at the end of the season, would have strong reservations about taking the job. West Ham’s senior figures have long been admirers of Benitez, as well as Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Huddersfield Town’s David Wagner. Manuel Pellegrini, the former Manchester City manager who is the head coach of Hebei China Fortune, is also under consideration. As Telegraph Sport told you on Feb 6... | How Matt Law led the way “We have already taken steps to identify and recruit the manager we believe can take West Ham United forward in line with our ambitions,” Sullivan said. “We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next 10 days.” It is believed that Moyes, who had becoming increasingly aware in recent weeks that the owners were unlikely to renew his contract, would only have wanted to stay if he was given a bigger budget and more control over signings. In a statement, West Ham said that Moyes had been appointed in November with the “sole objective” of keeping the club in the Premier League, but that it was time to “move in a different direction”. Moyes’ assistants: Alan Irvine, Stuart Pearce and Billy McKinlay, have also left the club. Moyes took over from Slaven Bilic last November with the club in the relegation zone. His time at the club was marred by fan unrest, which included a pitch invasion during the defeat by Burnley in March, but West Ham eventually finished in 13th place.
West Ham consider approach for Rafael Benitez as they look to replace David Moyes with 'high-calibre' figure
West Ham United are considering an approach for Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez as the club’s owners look to replace David Moyes with a “high-calibre” figure within the next 10 days. The club announced on Wednesday that Moyes had left the club after little more than six months in charge at the London Stadium, despite securing the club’s Premier League future with two games to spare. Benitez features prominently on a list of names drawn up by the West Ham hierarchy, although there is concern over a £6m buyout clause in the Spaniard’s contract. David Sullivan, the West Ham co-owner, held talks with Shakhtar Donetsk manager Paulo Fonseca on Monday, although Fonseca is understood to have indicated that he would prefer to remain in Ukraine. Sources in Portugal have suggested that the 45-year-old has chosen to renew his contract with Shakhtar. David Moyes has left West Ham Credit: REUTERS It is also understood that Unai Emery, the former Paris Saint-Germain manager who left the French champions at the end of the season, would have strong reservations about taking the job. West Ham’s senior figures have long been admirers of Benitez, as well as Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Huddersfield Town’s David Wagner. Manuel Pellegrini, the former Manchester City manager who is the head coach of Hebei China Fortune, is also under consideration. As Telegraph Sport told you on Feb 6... | How Matt Law led the way “We have already taken steps to identify and recruit the manager we believe can take West Ham United forward in line with our ambitions,” Sullivan said. “We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next 10 days.” It is believed that Moyes, who had becoming increasingly aware in recent weeks that the owners were unlikely to renew his contract, would only have wanted to stay if he was given a bigger budget and more control over signings. In a statement, West Ham said that Moyes had been appointed in November with the “sole objective” of keeping the club in the Premier League, but that it was time to “move in a different direction”. Moyes’ assistants: Alan Irvine, Stuart Pearce and Billy McKinlay, have also left the club. Moyes took over from Slaven Bilic last November with the club in the relegation zone. His time at the club was marred by fan unrest, which included a pitch invasion during the defeat by Burnley in March, but West Ham eventually finished in 13th place.
West Ham United have drawn up a four-man managerial shortlist as the club’s owners look to replace David Moyes with a “high-calibre figure” within the next 10 days. The club announced on Wednesday that Moyes had left the club after little more than six months in charge at the London Stadium, despite securing the club’s Premier League future with two games to spare. David Sullivan, the co-owner, held talks with Shakhtar Donetsk manager Paulo Fonseca on Monday, although Fonseca is understood to have indicated that he would prefer to remain in Ukraine. Sources in Portugal have suggested that the 45-year-old has chosen to renew his contract with Shakhtar. It is also understood that Unai Emery, the former Paris Saint-Germain manager who left the French champions at the end of the season, would have strong reservations about taking the job. As Telegraph Sport told you on Feb 6... | How Matt Law led the way West Ham’s senior figures have long been admirers of Rafael Benitez, the Newcastle United manager, as well as Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Huddersfield Town’s David Wagner. Manuel Pellegrini, the former Manchester City manager who is the head coach of Hebei China Fortune, is also under consideration. “We have already taken steps to identify and recruit the manager we believe can take West Ham United forward in line with our ambitions,” Sullivan said. “We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next 10 days.” It is believed that Moyes, who had becoming increasingly aware in recent weeks that the owners were unlikely to renew his contract, would only have wanted to stay if he was given a bigger budget and more control over signings. In a statement, West Ham said that Moyes had been appointed in November with the “sole objective” of keeping the club in the Premier League, but that it was time to “move in a different direction”. Moyes’ assistants: Alan Irvine, Stuart Pearce and Billy McKinlay, have also left the club. Moyes took over from Slaven Bilic last November with the club in the relegation zone. His time at the club was marred by fan unrest, which included a pitch invasion during the defeat by Burnley in March, but West Ham eventually finished in 13th place.
West Ham draw up four-man shortlist following David Moyes exit
West Ham United have drawn up a four-man managerial shortlist as the club’s owners look to replace David Moyes with a “high-calibre figure” within the next 10 days. The club announced on Wednesday that Moyes had left the club after little more than six months in charge at the London Stadium, despite securing the club’s Premier League future with two games to spare. David Sullivan, the co-owner, held talks with Shakhtar Donetsk manager Paulo Fonseca on Monday, although Fonseca is understood to have indicated that he would prefer to remain in Ukraine. Sources in Portugal have suggested that the 45-year-old has chosen to renew his contract with Shakhtar. It is also understood that Unai Emery, the former Paris Saint-Germain manager who left the French champions at the end of the season, would have strong reservations about taking the job. As Telegraph Sport told you on Feb 6... | How Matt Law led the way West Ham’s senior figures have long been admirers of Rafael Benitez, the Newcastle United manager, as well as Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Huddersfield Town’s David Wagner. Manuel Pellegrini, the former Manchester City manager who is the head coach of Hebei China Fortune, is also under consideration. “We have already taken steps to identify and recruit the manager we believe can take West Ham United forward in line with our ambitions,” Sullivan said. “We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next 10 days.” It is believed that Moyes, who had becoming increasingly aware in recent weeks that the owners were unlikely to renew his contract, would only have wanted to stay if he was given a bigger budget and more control over signings. In a statement, West Ham said that Moyes had been appointed in November with the “sole objective” of keeping the club in the Premier League, but that it was time to “move in a different direction”. Moyes’ assistants: Alan Irvine, Stuart Pearce and Billy McKinlay, have also left the club. Moyes took over from Slaven Bilic last November with the club in the relegation zone. His time at the club was marred by fan unrest, which included a pitch invasion during the defeat by Burnley in March, but West Ham eventually finished in 13th place.
The Clarets stopper believes Gareth Southgate was right to choose his uncapped club-mate in his final 23-man squad for Russia
'Incredible Pope has earned World Cup selection' - Heaton backs Burnley team-mate's England call
The Clarets stopper believes Gareth Southgate was right to choose his uncapped club-mate in his final 23-man squad for Russia
The Clarets stopper believes Gareth Southgate was right to choose his uncapped club-mate in his final 23-man squad for Russia
'Incredible Pope has earned World Cup selection' - Heaton backs Burnley team-mate's England call
The Clarets stopper believes Gareth Southgate was right to choose his uncapped club-mate in his final 23-man squad for Russia
Nick Pope is enjoying the benefits of producing 'incredible' form this season after making the England squad for the 2018 World Cup, according to Burnley team-mate Tom Heaton.
Pope reaping rewards from 'incredible' season - Heaton
Nick Pope is enjoying the benefits of producing 'incredible' form this season after making the England squad for the 2018 World Cup, according to Burnley team-mate Tom Heaton.
Nick Pope is enjoying the benefits of producing 'incredible' form this season after making the England squad for the 2018 World Cup, according to Burnley team-mate Tom Heaton.
Pope reaping rewards from 'incredible' season - Heaton
Nick Pope is enjoying the benefits of producing 'incredible' form this season after making the England squad for the 2018 World Cup, according to Burnley team-mate Tom Heaton.
Nick Pope is enjoying the benefits of producing 'incredible' form this season after making the England squad for the 2018 World Cup, according to Burnley team-mate Tom Heaton.
Pope reaping rewards from 'incredible' season - Heaton
Nick Pope is enjoying the benefits of producing 'incredible' form this season after making the England squad for the 2018 World Cup, according to Burnley team-mate Tom Heaton.
West Bromwich Albion v Burnley – Premier League – The Hawthorns
The highest scorers of the Fantasy Premier League missing from the England squad
West Bromwich Albion v Burnley – Premier League – The Hawthorns
Newcastle United v Burnley – Premier League – St James’ Park
The highest scorers of the Fantasy Premier League missing from the England squad
Newcastle United v Burnley – Premier League – St James’ Park
<p>Kieran Trippier<br> Age 27<br> Caps 5<br>Having stepped up to replace Walker at Spurs, the former Burnley full-back has underlined his deputy credentials in the Three Lions set-up despite an untimely injury scare. Offers wicked crosses from the right and stands to gain most if Walker is used centrally.<br>Key stat: Had seven clean sheets and five assists in only 24 Premier League appearances this season. </p>
England’s 23-man World Cup squad

Kieran Trippier
Age 27
Caps 5
Having stepped up to replace Walker at Spurs, the former Burnley full-back has underlined his deputy credentials in the Three Lions set-up despite an untimely injury scare. Offers wicked crosses from the right and stands to gain most if Walker is used centrally.
Key stat: Had seven clean sheets and five assists in only 24 Premier League appearances this season.

<p>Nick Pope<br> Age 26<br> Caps 0<br>Would barely have been on the radar of most Premier League fans at the start of the season but has been in irresistible form for Burnley since an untimely injury to Tom Heaton in September. Yet to wear the Three Lions at any level but got the nod ahead of the experienced Joe Hart.<br>Key stat: Began the season without a top-flight appearance but ended it with 11 clean sheets, matching all-time record holder Petr Cech for the year’s fifth-best tally. </p>
England’s 23-man World Cup squad

Nick Pope
Age 26
Caps 0
Would barely have been on the radar of most Premier League fans at the start of the season but has been in irresistible form for Burnley since an untimely injury to Tom Heaton in September. Yet to wear the Three Lions at any level but got the nod ahead of the experienced Joe Hart.
Key stat: Began the season without a top-flight appearance but ended it with 11 clean sheets, matching all-time record holder Petr Cech for the year’s fifth-best tally.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - West Ham United vs Burnley - London Stadium, London, Britain - March 10, 2018 West Ham United manager David Moyes Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Premier League - West Ham United vs Burnley
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - West Ham United vs Burnley - London Stadium, London, Britain - March 10, 2018 West Ham United manager David Moyes Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra/File Photo
<p>Kieran Trippier<br> Age 27<br> Caps 5<br>Having stepped up to replace Walker at Spurs, the former Burnley full-back has underlined his deputy credentials in the Three Lions set-up despite an untimely injury scare. Offers wicked crosses from the right and stands to gain most if Walker is used centrally.<br>Key stat: Had seven clean sheets and five assists in only 24 Premier League appearances this season. </p>
England’s 23-man World Cup squad

Kieran Trippier
Age 27
Caps 5
Having stepped up to replace Walker at Spurs, the former Burnley full-back has underlined his deputy credentials in the Three Lions set-up despite an untimely injury scare. Offers wicked crosses from the right and stands to gain most if Walker is used centrally.
Key stat: Had seven clean sheets and five assists in only 24 Premier League appearances this season.

<p>Nick Pope<br> Age 26<br> Caps 0<br>Would barely have been on the radar of most Premier League fans at the start of the season but has been in irresistible form for Burnley since an untimely injury to Tom Heaton in September. Yet to wear the Three Lions at any level but got the nod ahead of the experienced Joe Hart.<br>Key stat: Began the season without a top-flight appearance but ended it with 11 clean sheets, matching all-time record holder Petr Cech for the year’s fifth-best tally. </p>
England’s 23-man World Cup squad

Nick Pope
Age 26
Caps 0
Would barely have been on the radar of most Premier League fans at the start of the season but has been in irresistible form for Burnley since an untimely injury to Tom Heaton in September. Yet to wear the Three Lions at any level but got the nod ahead of the experienced Joe Hart.
Key stat: Began the season without a top-flight appearance but ended it with 11 clean sheets, matching all-time record holder Petr Cech for the year’s fifth-best tally.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - West Ham United vs Burnley - London Stadium, London, Britain - March 10, 2018 West Ham United manager David Moyes Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Premier League - West Ham United vs Burnley
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - West Ham United vs Burnley - London Stadium, London, Britain - March 10, 2018 West Ham United manager David Moyes Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra/File Photo
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There&#39;s not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we&#39;ve observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England&#39;s World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn&#39;t quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton&#39;s team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn&#39;t always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for &#39;accidentally&#39; mistiming tackles, but the stats don&#39;t lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka&#39;s range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles&#39; reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City&#39;s charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea&#39;s Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn&#39;t quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League&#39;s most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta&#39;s reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil&#39;s languid style may disgust all self-respecting &#39;Proper Football Men&#39;, but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team&#39;s total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that&#39;d be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs&#39; defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier&#39;s challenge to become Tottenham&#39;s first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League&#39;s best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea&#39;s most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn&#39;t quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League&#39;s best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn&#39;t have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool&#39;s Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata&#39;s 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he&#39;s on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata&#39;s lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger&#39;s last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger&#39;s final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City&#39;s winner which took Pep Guardiola&#39;s side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world&#39;s great midfielders. 29. N&#39;Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn&#39;t had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He&#39;s a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he&#39;s only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there&#39;s far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he&#39;s known for - Vardy&#39;s amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas&#39; return of two goals isn&#39;t stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn&#39;t perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson&#39;s calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it&#39;s just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn&#39;t won the Ballon d&#39;Or. Crucially, Ederson&#39;s command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol&#8482; (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd&#39;s most consistent performer. It looked like Matic&#39;s partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane&#39;s shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it&#39;s safe to say that Otamendi&#39;s involvement in Man City&#39;s buildup play is fairly important. He&#39;s strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they&#39;d be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs&#39; defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn&#39;t Hazard&#39;s best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League&#39;s better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian&#39;s absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don&#39;t have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League&#39;s most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham&#39;s best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho&#39;s sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn&#39;t have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino&#39;s guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world&#39;s leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool&#39;s &#39;Fab Four&#39;, but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool&#39;s thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United&#39;s history to win the fans&#39; player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League&#39;s most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling&#39;s much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he&#39;s not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero&#39;s record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it&#39;s as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he&#39;s faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport&#39;s Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola&#39;s avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition&#39;s half and anticipates danger minutes before it happens. Crucially, Fernandinho leads by example but has a ruthless streak to him - the kind serial winners usually do - and can absolutely ping a ball at goal when he gets the chance. 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The key to Liverpool&#39;s slick, fluid forward line. Drops out of the nine space to allow Salah and Mane room to attack, links passes around the final third, won 50 tackles leading the Liverpool high-press and scored 15 goals himself. And if you don&#39;t believe that, perhaps Thierry Henry&#39;s opinoin will help 4. Harry Kane (Spurs) Credit: PA All jokes aside, Kane does seem to score with most touches of the ball he gets and that makes sense, since most of his touches are shots. Kane took more of those than any other player, hitting 184 efforts at goal and scoring 30 times, including two hat-tricks. Premier League shots taken Has had a slight lull in the last few weeks after - somehow - recovering from injury in rapid time but should be at full-strength for the World Cup. 3. David Silva (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES A treasure of the Premier League, one of the most intelligent, sexiest conjurers of magic the country has ever seen, Silva is one of the under appreciated, less-shiny stones on Man City&#39;s crown. Missed a large part of the season with personal problems but when on the pitch played better than he ever has. 2. Mo Salah (Liverpool) Credit: PA What a season. Glimpses of Messi-skill, an Ian Rush-like talent to be in the right place at the right time and a player who has inspired the entire city of Liverpool, let alone the club, throughout the season. Most goals in a 38-game @PremierLeague season… 3️⃣2️⃣ MOHAMED SALAH 3️⃣1️⃣ Luis Suarez 3️⃣1️⃣ Alan Shearer 3️⃣1️⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo Congratulations, @MoSalah! �� pic.twitter.com/oY3DK7Hhxy— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2018 Salah is a ridiculous talent who, if he can maintain the form in the World Cup and for Liverpool next season, should be considered up there with the world&#39;s elite. Goals scored Premier League But there is another... 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS Simply put, De Bruyne has been the best all round player in the best ever Premier League team. He embodies everything special about Guardiola&#39;s 100-points-winning style of football, makes unbelievable passes, scores incredible goals, is determined, driven, inspirational, hits wonderstrikes with both feet and... well... what more could you want? An assist 4 minutes into added time means that the incredible Kevin De Bruyne is the winner of the 1st @CadburyUK Playmaker award#PLAwardspic.twitter.com/odgxB7XcOT— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2018 The Belgian scored eight goals and assisted 16 others with some of those being match-deciders. His workrate off the ball has been exceptional, some of the passes he makes are out of this world and he doesn&#39;t even seem to be better on one particular foot. If he plays like this at the World Cup De Bruyne could light the tournament on fire.
Babbello Index: the 50 best players in the Premier League 2017/18
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There's not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we've observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England's World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn't quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton's team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn't always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for 'accidentally' mistiming tackles, but the stats don't lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka's range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles' reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City's charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea's Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn't quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League's most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta's reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil's languid style may disgust all self-respecting 'Proper Football Men', but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team's total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that'd be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs' defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier's challenge to become Tottenham's first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League's best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea's most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn't quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League's best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn't have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool's Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata's 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he's on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata's lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger's last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger's final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City's winner which took Pep Guardiola's side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world's great midfielders. 29. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn't had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He's a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he's only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there's far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he's known for - Vardy's amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas' return of two goals isn't stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn't perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson's calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it's just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn't won the Ballon d'Or. Crucially, Ederson's command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol™ (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd's most consistent performer. It looked like Matic's partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane's shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it's safe to say that Otamendi's involvement in Man City's buildup play is fairly important. He's strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they'd be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs' defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn't Hazard's best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League's better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian's absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don't have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League's most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham's best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho's sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn't have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino's guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world's leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool's 'Fab Four', but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool's thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United's history to win the fans' player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League's most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling's much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he's not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero's record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it's as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he's faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport's Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola's avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition's half and anticipates danger minutes before it happens. Crucially, Fernandinho leads by example but has a ruthless streak to him - the kind serial winners usually do - and can absolutely ping a ball at goal when he gets the chance. 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The key to Liverpool's slick, fluid forward line. Drops out of the nine space to allow Salah and Mane room to attack, links passes around the final third, won 50 tackles leading the Liverpool high-press and scored 15 goals himself. And if you don't believe that, perhaps Thierry Henry's opinoin will help 4. Harry Kane (Spurs) Credit: PA All jokes aside, Kane does seem to score with most touches of the ball he gets and that makes sense, since most of his touches are shots. Kane took more of those than any other player, hitting 184 efforts at goal and scoring 30 times, including two hat-tricks. Premier League shots taken Has had a slight lull in the last few weeks after - somehow - recovering from injury in rapid time but should be at full-strength for the World Cup. 3. David Silva (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES A treasure of the Premier League, one of the most intelligent, sexiest conjurers of magic the country has ever seen, Silva is one of the under appreciated, less-shiny stones on Man City's crown. Missed a large part of the season with personal problems but when on the pitch played better than he ever has. 2. Mo Salah (Liverpool) Credit: PA What a season. Glimpses of Messi-skill, an Ian Rush-like talent to be in the right place at the right time and a player who has inspired the entire city of Liverpool, let alone the club, throughout the season. Most goals in a 38-game @PremierLeague season… 3️⃣2️⃣ MOHAMED SALAH 3️⃣1️⃣ Luis Suarez 3️⃣1️⃣ Alan Shearer 3️⃣1️⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo Congratulations, @MoSalah! �� pic.twitter.com/oY3DK7Hhxy— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2018 Salah is a ridiculous talent who, if he can maintain the form in the World Cup and for Liverpool next season, should be considered up there with the world's elite. Goals scored Premier League But there is another... 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS Simply put, De Bruyne has been the best all round player in the best ever Premier League team. He embodies everything special about Guardiola's 100-points-winning style of football, makes unbelievable passes, scores incredible goals, is determined, driven, inspirational, hits wonderstrikes with both feet and... well... what more could you want? An assist 4 minutes into added time means that the incredible Kevin De Bruyne is the winner of the 1st @CadburyUK Playmaker award#PLAwardspic.twitter.com/odgxB7XcOT— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2018 The Belgian scored eight goals and assisted 16 others with some of those being match-deciders. His workrate off the ball has been exceptional, some of the passes he makes are out of this world and he doesn't even seem to be better on one particular foot. If he plays like this at the World Cup De Bruyne could light the tournament on fire.
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There&#39;s not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we&#39;ve observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England&#39;s World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn&#39;t quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton&#39;s team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn&#39;t always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for &#39;accidentally&#39; mistiming tackles, but the stats don&#39;t lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka&#39;s range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles&#39; reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City&#39;s charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea&#39;s Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn&#39;t quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League&#39;s most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta&#39;s reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil&#39;s languid style may disgust all self-respecting &#39;Proper Football Men&#39;, but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team&#39;s total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that&#39;d be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs&#39; defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier&#39;s challenge to become Tottenham&#39;s first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League&#39;s best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea&#39;s most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn&#39;t quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League&#39;s best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn&#39;t have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool&#39;s Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata&#39;s 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he&#39;s on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata&#39;s lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger&#39;s last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger&#39;s final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City&#39;s winner which took Pep Guardiola&#39;s side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world&#39;s great midfielders. 29. N&#39;Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn&#39;t had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He&#39;s a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he&#39;s only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there&#39;s far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he&#39;s known for - Vardy&#39;s amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas&#39; return of two goals isn&#39;t stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn&#39;t perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson&#39;s calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it&#39;s just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn&#39;t won the Ballon d&#39;Or. Crucially, Ederson&#39;s command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol&#8482; (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd&#39;s most consistent performer. It looked like Matic&#39;s partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane&#39;s shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it&#39;s safe to say that Otamendi&#39;s involvement in Man City&#39;s buildup play is fairly important. He&#39;s strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they&#39;d be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs&#39; defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn&#39;t Hazard&#39;s best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League&#39;s better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian&#39;s absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don&#39;t have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League&#39;s most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham&#39;s best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho&#39;s sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn&#39;t have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino&#39;s guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world&#39;s leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool&#39;s &#39;Fab Four&#39;, but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool&#39;s thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United&#39;s history to win the fans&#39; player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League&#39;s most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling&#39;s much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he&#39;s not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero&#39;s record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it&#39;s as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he&#39;s faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport&#39;s Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola&#39;s avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition&#39;s half and anticipates danger minutes before it happens. Crucially, Fernandinho leads by example but has a ruthless streak to him - the kind serial winners usually do - and can absolutely ping a ball at goal when he gets the chance. 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The key to Liverpool&#39;s slick, fluid forward line. Drops out of the nine space to allow Salah and Mane room to attack, links passes around the final third, won 50 tackles leading the Liverpool high-press and scored 15 goals himself. And if you don&#39;t believe that, perhaps Thierry Henry&#39;s opinoin will help 4. Harry Kane (Spurs) Credit: PA All jokes aside, Kane does seem to score with most touches of the ball he gets and that makes sense, since most of his touches are shots. Kane took more of those than any other player, hitting 184 efforts at goal and scoring 30 times, including two hat-tricks. Premier League shots taken Has had a slight lull in the last few weeks after - somehow - recovering from injury in rapid time but should be at full-strength for the World Cup. 3. David Silva (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES A treasure of the Premier League, one of the most intelligent, sexiest conjurers of magic the country has ever seen, Silva is one of the under appreciated, less-shiny stones on Man City&#39;s crown. Missed a large part of the season with personal problems but when on the pitch played better than he ever has. 2. Mo Salah (Liverpool) Credit: PA What a season. Glimpses of Messi-skill, an Ian Rush-like talent to be in the right place at the right time and a player who has inspired the entire city of Liverpool, let alone the club, throughout the season. Most goals in a 38-game @PremierLeague season… 3️⃣2️⃣ MOHAMED SALAH 3️⃣1️⃣ Luis Suarez 3️⃣1️⃣ Alan Shearer 3️⃣1️⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo Congratulations, @MoSalah! �� pic.twitter.com/oY3DK7Hhxy— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2018 Salah is a ridiculous talent who, if he can maintain the form in the World Cup and for Liverpool next season, should be considered up there with the world&#39;s elite. Goals scored Premier League But there is another... 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS Simply put, De Bruyne has been the best all round player in the best ever Premier League team. He embodies everything special about Guardiola&#39;s 100-points-winning style of football, makes unbelievable passes, scores incredible goals, is determined, driven, inspirational, hits wonderstrikes with both feet and... well... what more could you want? An assist 4 minutes into added time means that the incredible Kevin De Bruyne is the winner of the 1st @CadburyUK Playmaker award#PLAwardspic.twitter.com/odgxB7XcOT— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2018 The Belgian scored eight goals and assisted 16 others with some of those being match-deciders. His workrate off the ball has been exceptional, some of the passes he makes are out of this world and he doesn&#39;t even seem to be better on one particular foot. If he plays like this at the World Cup De Bruyne could light the tournament on fire.
Babbello Index: the 50 best players in the Premier League 2017/18
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There's not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we've observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England's World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn't quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton's team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn't always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for 'accidentally' mistiming tackles, but the stats don't lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka's range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles' reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City's charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea's Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn't quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League's most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta's reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil's languid style may disgust all self-respecting 'Proper Football Men', but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team's total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that'd be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs' defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier's challenge to become Tottenham's first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League's best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea's most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn't quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League's best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn't have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool's Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata's 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he's on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata's lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger's last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger's final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City's winner which took Pep Guardiola's side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world's great midfielders. 29. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn't had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He's a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he's only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there's far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he's known for - Vardy's amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas' return of two goals isn't stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn't perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson's calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it's just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn't won the Ballon d'Or. Crucially, Ederson's command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol™ (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd's most consistent performer. It looked like Matic's partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane's shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it's safe to say that Otamendi's involvement in Man City's buildup play is fairly important. He's strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they'd be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs' defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn't Hazard's best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League's better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian's absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don't have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League's most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham's best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho's sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn't have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino's guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world's leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool's 'Fab Four', but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool's thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United's history to win the fans' player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League's most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling's much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he's not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero's record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it's as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he's faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport's Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola's avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition's half and anticipates danger minutes before it happens. Crucially, Fernandinho leads by example but has a ruthless streak to him - the kind serial winners usually do - and can absolutely ping a ball at goal when he gets the chance. 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The key to Liverpool's slick, fluid forward line. Drops out of the nine space to allow Salah and Mane room to attack, links passes around the final third, won 50 tackles leading the Liverpool high-press and scored 15 goals himself. And if you don't believe that, perhaps Thierry Henry's opinoin will help 4. Harry Kane (Spurs) Credit: PA All jokes aside, Kane does seem to score with most touches of the ball he gets and that makes sense, since most of his touches are shots. Kane took more of those than any other player, hitting 184 efforts at goal and scoring 30 times, including two hat-tricks. Premier League shots taken Has had a slight lull in the last few weeks after - somehow - recovering from injury in rapid time but should be at full-strength for the World Cup. 3. David Silva (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES A treasure of the Premier League, one of the most intelligent, sexiest conjurers of magic the country has ever seen, Silva is one of the under appreciated, less-shiny stones on Man City's crown. Missed a large part of the season with personal problems but when on the pitch played better than he ever has. 2. Mo Salah (Liverpool) Credit: PA What a season. Glimpses of Messi-skill, an Ian Rush-like talent to be in the right place at the right time and a player who has inspired the entire city of Liverpool, let alone the club, throughout the season. Most goals in a 38-game @PremierLeague season… 3️⃣2️⃣ MOHAMED SALAH 3️⃣1️⃣ Luis Suarez 3️⃣1️⃣ Alan Shearer 3️⃣1️⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo Congratulations, @MoSalah! �� pic.twitter.com/oY3DK7Hhxy— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2018 Salah is a ridiculous talent who, if he can maintain the form in the World Cup and for Liverpool next season, should be considered up there with the world's elite. Goals scored Premier League But there is another... 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS Simply put, De Bruyne has been the best all round player in the best ever Premier League team. He embodies everything special about Guardiola's 100-points-winning style of football, makes unbelievable passes, scores incredible goals, is determined, driven, inspirational, hits wonderstrikes with both feet and... well... what more could you want? An assist 4 minutes into added time means that the incredible Kevin De Bruyne is the winner of the 1st @CadburyUK Playmaker award#PLAwardspic.twitter.com/odgxB7XcOT— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2018 The Belgian scored eight goals and assisted 16 others with some of those being match-deciders. His workrate off the ball has been exceptional, some of the passes he makes are out of this world and he doesn't even seem to be better on one particular foot. If he plays like this at the World Cup De Bruyne could light the tournament on fire.
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There&#39;s not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we&#39;ve observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England&#39;s World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn&#39;t quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton&#39;s team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn&#39;t always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for &#39;accidentally&#39; mistiming tackles, but the stats don&#39;t lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka&#39;s range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles&#39; reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City&#39;s charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea&#39;s Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn&#39;t quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League&#39;s most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta&#39;s reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil&#39;s languid style may disgust all self-respecting &#39;Proper Football Men&#39;, but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team&#39;s total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that&#39;d be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs&#39; defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier&#39;s challenge to become Tottenham&#39;s first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League&#39;s best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea&#39;s most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn&#39;t quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League&#39;s best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn&#39;t have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool&#39;s Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata&#39;s 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he&#39;s on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata&#39;s lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger&#39;s last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger&#39;s final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City&#39;s winner which took Pep Guardiola&#39;s side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world&#39;s great midfielders. 29. N&#39;Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn&#39;t had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He&#39;s a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he&#39;s only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there&#39;s far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he&#39;s known for - Vardy&#39;s amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas&#39; return of two goals isn&#39;t stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn&#39;t perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson&#39;s calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it&#39;s just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn&#39;t won the Ballon d&#39;Or. Crucially, Ederson&#39;s command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol&#8482; (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd&#39;s most consistent performer. It looked like Matic&#39;s partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane&#39;s shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it&#39;s safe to say that Otamendi&#39;s involvement in Man City&#39;s buildup play is fairly important. He&#39;s strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they&#39;d be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs&#39; defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn&#39;t Hazard&#39;s best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League&#39;s better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian&#39;s absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don&#39;t have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League&#39;s most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham&#39;s best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho&#39;s sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn&#39;t have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino&#39;s guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world&#39;s leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool&#39;s &#39;Fab Four&#39;, but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool&#39;s thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United&#39;s history to win the fans&#39; player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League&#39;s most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling&#39;s much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he&#39;s not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero&#39;s record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it&#39;s as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he&#39;s faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport&#39;s Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola&#39;s avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition&#39;s half and anticipates danger minutes before it happens. Crucially, Fernandinho leads by example but has a ruthless streak to him - the kind serial winners usually do - and can absolutely ping a ball at goal when he gets the chance. 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The key to Liverpool&#39;s slick, fluid forward line. Drops out of the nine space to allow Salah and Mane room to attack, links passes around the final third, won 50 tackles leading the Liverpool high-press and scored 15 goals himself. And if you don&#39;t believe that, perhaps Thierry Henry&#39;s opinoin will help 4. Harry Kane (Spurs) Credit: PA All jokes aside, Kane does seem to score with most touches of the ball he gets and that makes sense, since most of his touches are shots. Kane took more of those than any other player, hitting 184 efforts at goal and scoring 30 times, including two hat-tricks. Premier League shots taken Has had a slight lull in the last few weeks after - somehow - recovering from injury in rapid time but should be at full-strength for the World Cup. 3. David Silva (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES A treasure of the Premier League, one of the most intelligent, sexiest conjurers of magic the country has ever seen, Silva is one of the under appreciated, less-shiny stones on Man City&#39;s crown. Missed a large part of the season with personal problems but when on the pitch played better than he ever has. 2. Mo Salah (Liverpool) Credit: PA What a season. Glimpses of Messi-skill, an Ian Rush-like talent to be in the right place at the right time and a player who has inspired the entire city of Liverpool, let alone the club, throughout the season. Most goals in a 38-game @PremierLeague season… 3️⃣2️⃣ MOHAMED SALAH 3️⃣1️⃣ Luis Suarez 3️⃣1️⃣ Alan Shearer 3️⃣1️⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo Congratulations, @MoSalah! �� pic.twitter.com/oY3DK7Hhxy— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2018 Salah is a ridiculous talent who, if he can maintain the form in the World Cup and for Liverpool next season, should be considered up there with the world&#39;s elite. Goals scored Premier League But there is another... 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS Simply put, De Bruyne has been the best all round player in the best ever Premier League team. He embodies everything special about Guardiola&#39;s 100-points-winning style of football, makes unbelievable passes, scores incredible goals, is determined, driven, inspirational, hits wonderstrikes with both feet and... well... what more could you want? An assist 4 minutes into added time means that the incredible Kevin De Bruyne is the winner of the 1st @CadburyUK Playmaker award#PLAwardspic.twitter.com/odgxB7XcOT— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2018 The Belgian scored eight goals and assisted 16 others with some of those being match-deciders. His workrate off the ball has been exceptional, some of the passes he makes are out of this world and he doesn&#39;t even seem to be better on one particular foot. If he plays like this at the World Cup De Bruyne could light the tournament on fire.
Babbello Index: the 50 best players in the Premier League 2017/18
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There's not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we've observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England's World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn't quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton's team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn't always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for 'accidentally' mistiming tackles, but the stats don't lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka's range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles' reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City's charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea's Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn't quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League's most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta's reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil's languid style may disgust all self-respecting 'Proper Football Men', but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team's total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that'd be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs' defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier's challenge to become Tottenham's first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League's best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea's most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn't quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League's best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn't have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool's Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata's 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he's on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata's lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger's last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger's final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City's winner which took Pep Guardiola's side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world's great midfielders. 29. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn't had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He's a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he's only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there's far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he's known for - Vardy's amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas' return of two goals isn't stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn't perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson's calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it's just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn't won the Ballon d'Or. Crucially, Ederson's command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol™ (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd's most consistent performer. It looked like Matic's partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane's shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it's safe to say that Otamendi's involvement in Man City's buildup play is fairly important. He's strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they'd be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs' defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn't Hazard's best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League's better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian's absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don't have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League's most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham's best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho's sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn't have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino's guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world's leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool's 'Fab Four', but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool's thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United's history to win the fans' player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League's most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling's much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he's not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero's record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it's as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he's faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport's Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola's avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition's half and anticipates danger minutes before it happens. Crucially, Fernandinho leads by example but has a ruthless streak to him - the kind serial winners usually do - and can absolutely ping a ball at goal when he gets the chance. 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The key to Liverpool's slick, fluid forward line. Drops out of the nine space to allow Salah and Mane room to attack, links passes around the final third, won 50 tackles leading the Liverpool high-press and scored 15 goals himself. And if you don't believe that, perhaps Thierry Henry's opinoin will help 4. Harry Kane (Spurs) Credit: PA All jokes aside, Kane does seem to score with most touches of the ball he gets and that makes sense, since most of his touches are shots. Kane took more of those than any other player, hitting 184 efforts at goal and scoring 30 times, including two hat-tricks. Premier League shots taken Has had a slight lull in the last few weeks after - somehow - recovering from injury in rapid time but should be at full-strength for the World Cup. 3. David Silva (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES A treasure of the Premier League, one of the most intelligent, sexiest conjurers of magic the country has ever seen, Silva is one of the under appreciated, less-shiny stones on Man City's crown. Missed a large part of the season with personal problems but when on the pitch played better than he ever has. 2. Mo Salah (Liverpool) Credit: PA What a season. Glimpses of Messi-skill, an Ian Rush-like talent to be in the right place at the right time and a player who has inspired the entire city of Liverpool, let alone the club, throughout the season. Most goals in a 38-game @PremierLeague season… 3️⃣2️⃣ MOHAMED SALAH 3️⃣1️⃣ Luis Suarez 3️⃣1️⃣ Alan Shearer 3️⃣1️⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo Congratulations, @MoSalah! �� pic.twitter.com/oY3DK7Hhxy— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2018 Salah is a ridiculous talent who, if he can maintain the form in the World Cup and for Liverpool next season, should be considered up there with the world's elite. Goals scored Premier League But there is another... 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS Simply put, De Bruyne has been the best all round player in the best ever Premier League team. He embodies everything special about Guardiola's 100-points-winning style of football, makes unbelievable passes, scores incredible goals, is determined, driven, inspirational, hits wonderstrikes with both feet and... well... what more could you want? An assist 4 minutes into added time means that the incredible Kevin De Bruyne is the winner of the 1st @CadburyUK Playmaker award#PLAwardspic.twitter.com/odgxB7XcOT— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2018 The Belgian scored eight goals and assisted 16 others with some of those being match-deciders. His workrate off the ball has been exceptional, some of the passes he makes are out of this world and he doesn't even seem to be better on one particular foot. If he plays like this at the World Cup De Bruyne could light the tournament on fire.
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There&#39;s not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we&#39;ve observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England&#39;s World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn&#39;t quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton&#39;s team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn&#39;t always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for &#39;accidentally&#39; mistiming tackles, but the stats don&#39;t lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka&#39;s range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles&#39; reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City&#39;s charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea&#39;s Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn&#39;t quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League&#39;s most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta&#39;s reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil&#39;s languid style may disgust all self-respecting &#39;Proper Football Men&#39;, but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team&#39;s total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that&#39;d be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs&#39; defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier&#39;s challenge to become Tottenham&#39;s first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League&#39;s best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea&#39;s most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn&#39;t quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League&#39;s best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn&#39;t have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool&#39;s Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata&#39;s 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he&#39;s on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata&#39;s lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger&#39;s last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger&#39;s final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City&#39;s winner which took Pep Guardiola&#39;s side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world&#39;s great midfielders. 29. N&#39;Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn&#39;t had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He&#39;s a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he&#39;s only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there&#39;s far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he&#39;s known for - Vardy&#39;s amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas&#39; return of two goals isn&#39;t stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn&#39;t perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson&#39;s calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it&#39;s just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn&#39;t won the Ballon d&#39;Or. Crucially, Ederson&#39;s command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol&#8482; (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd&#39;s most consistent performer. It looked like Matic&#39;s partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane&#39;s shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it&#39;s safe to say that Otamendi&#39;s involvement in Man City&#39;s buildup play is fairly important. He&#39;s strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they&#39;d be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs&#39; defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn&#39;t Hazard&#39;s best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League&#39;s better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian&#39;s absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don&#39;t have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League&#39;s most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham&#39;s best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho&#39;s sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn&#39;t have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino&#39;s guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world&#39;s leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool&#39;s &#39;Fab Four&#39;, but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool&#39;s thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United&#39;s history to win the fans&#39; player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League&#39;s most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling&#39;s much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he&#39;s not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero&#39;s record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it&#39;s as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he&#39;s faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport&#39;s Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola&#39;s avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition&#39;s half and anticipates danger minutes before it happens. Crucially, Fernandinho leads by example but has a ruthless streak to him - the kind serial winners usually do - and can absolutely ping a ball at goal when he gets the chance. 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The key to Liverpool&#39;s slick, fluid forward line. Drops out of the nine space to allow Salah and Mane room to attack, links passes around the final third, won 50 tackles leading the Liverpool high-press and scored 15 goals himself. And if you don&#39;t believe that, perhaps Thierry Henry&#39;s opinoin will help 4. Harry Kane (Spurs) Credit: PA All jokes aside, Kane does seem to score with most touches of the ball he gets and that makes sense, since most of his touches are shots. Kane took more of those than any other player, hitting 184 efforts at goal and scoring 30 times, including two hat-tricks. Premier League shots taken Has had a slight lull in the last few weeks after - somehow - recovering from injury in rapid time but should be at full-strength for the World Cup. 3. David Silva (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES A treasure of the Premier League, one of the most intelligent, sexiest conjurers of magic the country has ever seen, Silva is one of the under appreciated, less-shiny stones on Man City&#39;s crown. Missed a large part of the season with personal problems but when on the pitch played better than he ever has. 2. Mo Salah (Liverpool) Credit: PA What a season. Glimpses of Messi-skill, an Ian Rush-like talent to be in the right place at the right time and a player who has inspired the entire city of Liverpool, let alone the club, throughout the season. Most goals in a 38-game @PremierLeague season… 3️⃣2️⃣ MOHAMED SALAH 3️⃣1️⃣ Luis Suarez 3️⃣1️⃣ Alan Shearer 3️⃣1️⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo Congratulations, @MoSalah! �� pic.twitter.com/oY3DK7Hhxy— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2018 Salah is a ridiculous talent who, if he can maintain the form in the World Cup and for Liverpool next season, should be considered up there with the world&#39;s elite. Goals scored Premier League But there is another... 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS Simply put, De Bruyne has been the best all round player in the best ever Premier League team. He embodies everything special about Guardiola&#39;s 100-points-winning style of football, makes unbelievable passes, scores incredible goals, is determined, driven, inspirational, hits wonderstrikes with both feet and... well... what more could you want? An assist 4 minutes into added time means that the incredible Kevin De Bruyne is the winner of the 1st @CadburyUK Playmaker award#PLAwardspic.twitter.com/odgxB7XcOT— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2018 The Belgian scored eight goals and assisted 16 others with some of those being match-deciders. His workrate off the ball has been exceptional, some of the passes he makes are out of this world and he doesn&#39;t even seem to be better on one particular foot. If he plays like this at the World Cup De Bruyne could light the tournament on fire.
Babbello Index: the 50 best players in the Premier League 2017/18
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There's not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we've observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England's World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn't quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton's team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn't always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for 'accidentally' mistiming tackles, but the stats don't lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka's range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles' reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City's charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea's Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn't quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League's most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta's reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil's languid style may disgust all self-respecting 'Proper Football Men', but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team's total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that'd be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs' defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier's challenge to become Tottenham's first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League's best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea's most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn't quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League's best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn't have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool's Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata's 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he's on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata's lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger's last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger's final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City's winner which took Pep Guardiola's side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world's great midfielders. 29. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn't had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He's a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he's only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there's far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he's known for - Vardy's amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas' return of two goals isn't stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn't perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson's calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it's just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn't won the Ballon d'Or. Crucially, Ederson's command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol™ (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd's most consistent performer. It looked like Matic's partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane's shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it's safe to say that Otamendi's involvement in Man City's buildup play is fairly important. He's strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they'd be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs' defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn't Hazard's best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League's better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian's absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don't have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League's most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham's best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho's sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn't have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino's guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world's leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool's 'Fab Four', but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool's thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United's history to win the fans' player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League's most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling's much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he's not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero's record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it's as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he's faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport's Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola's avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition's half and anticipates danger minutes before it happens. Crucially, Fernandinho leads by example but has a ruthless streak to him - the kind serial winners usually do - and can absolutely ping a ball at goal when he gets the chance. 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The key to Liverpool's slick, fluid forward line. Drops out of the nine space to allow Salah and Mane room to attack, links passes around the final third, won 50 tackles leading the Liverpool high-press and scored 15 goals himself. And if you don't believe that, perhaps Thierry Henry's opinoin will help 4. Harry Kane (Spurs) Credit: PA All jokes aside, Kane does seem to score with most touches of the ball he gets and that makes sense, since most of his touches are shots. Kane took more of those than any other player, hitting 184 efforts at goal and scoring 30 times, including two hat-tricks. Premier League shots taken Has had a slight lull in the last few weeks after - somehow - recovering from injury in rapid time but should be at full-strength for the World Cup. 3. David Silva (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES A treasure of the Premier League, one of the most intelligent, sexiest conjurers of magic the country has ever seen, Silva is one of the under appreciated, less-shiny stones on Man City's crown. Missed a large part of the season with personal problems but when on the pitch played better than he ever has. 2. Mo Salah (Liverpool) Credit: PA What a season. Glimpses of Messi-skill, an Ian Rush-like talent to be in the right place at the right time and a player who has inspired the entire city of Liverpool, let alone the club, throughout the season. Most goals in a 38-game @PremierLeague season… 3️⃣2️⃣ MOHAMED SALAH 3️⃣1️⃣ Luis Suarez 3️⃣1️⃣ Alan Shearer 3️⃣1️⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo Congratulations, @MoSalah! �� pic.twitter.com/oY3DK7Hhxy— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2018 Salah is a ridiculous talent who, if he can maintain the form in the World Cup and for Liverpool next season, should be considered up there with the world's elite. Goals scored Premier League But there is another... 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS Simply put, De Bruyne has been the best all round player in the best ever Premier League team. He embodies everything special about Guardiola's 100-points-winning style of football, makes unbelievable passes, scores incredible goals, is determined, driven, inspirational, hits wonderstrikes with both feet and... well... what more could you want? An assist 4 minutes into added time means that the incredible Kevin De Bruyne is the winner of the 1st @CadburyUK Playmaker award#PLAwardspic.twitter.com/odgxB7XcOT— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2018 The Belgian scored eight goals and assisted 16 others with some of those being match-deciders. His workrate off the ball has been exceptional, some of the passes he makes are out of this world and he doesn't even seem to be better on one particular foot. If he plays like this at the World Cup De Bruyne could light the tournament on fire.
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There&#39;s not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we&#39;ve observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England&#39;s World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn&#39;t quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton&#39;s team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn&#39;t always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for &#39;accidentally&#39; mistiming tackles, but the stats don&#39;t lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka&#39;s range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles&#39; reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City&#39;s charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea&#39;s Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn&#39;t quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League&#39;s most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta&#39;s reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil&#39;s languid style may disgust all self-respecting &#39;Proper Football Men&#39;, but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team&#39;s total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that&#39;d be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs&#39; defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier&#39;s challenge to become Tottenham&#39;s first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League&#39;s best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea&#39;s most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn&#39;t quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League&#39;s best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn&#39;t have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool&#39;s Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata&#39;s 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he&#39;s on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata&#39;s lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger&#39;s last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger&#39;s final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City&#39;s winner which took Pep Guardiola&#39;s side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world&#39;s great midfielders. 29. N&#39;Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn&#39;t had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He&#39;s a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he&#39;s only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there&#39;s far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he&#39;s known for - Vardy&#39;s amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas&#39; return of two goals isn&#39;t stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn&#39;t perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson&#39;s calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it&#39;s just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn&#39;t won the Ballon d&#39;Or. Crucially, Ederson&#39;s command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol&#8482; (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd&#39;s most consistent performer. It looked like Matic&#39;s partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane&#39;s shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it&#39;s safe to say that Otamendi&#39;s involvement in Man City&#39;s buildup play is fairly important. He&#39;s strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they&#39;d be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs&#39; defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn&#39;t Hazard&#39;s best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League&#39;s better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian&#39;s absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don&#39;t have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League&#39;s most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham&#39;s best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho&#39;s sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn&#39;t have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino&#39;s guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world&#39;s leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool&#39;s &#39;Fab Four&#39;, but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool&#39;s thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United&#39;s history to win the fans&#39; player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League&#39;s most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling&#39;s much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he&#39;s not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero&#39;s record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it&#39;s as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he&#39;s faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport&#39;s Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola&#39;s avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition&#39;s half and anticipates danger minutes before it happens. Crucially, Fernandinho leads by example but has a ruthless streak to him - the kind serial winners usually do - and can absolutely ping a ball at goal when he gets the chance. 5. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The key to Liverpool&#39;s slick, fluid forward line. Drops out of the nine space to allow Salah and Mane room to attack, links passes around the final third, won 50 tackles leading the Liverpool high-press and scored 15 goals himself. And if you don&#39;t believe that, perhaps Thierry Henry&#39;s opinoin will help 4. Harry Kane (Spurs) Credit: PA All jokes aside, Kane does seem to score with most touches of the ball he gets and that makes sense, since most of his touches are shots. Kane took more of those than any other player, hitting 184 efforts at goal and scoring 30 times, including two hat-tricks. Premier League shots taken Has had a slight lull in the last few weeks after - somehow - recovering from injury in rapid time but should be at full-strength for the World Cup. 3. David Silva (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES A treasure of the Premier League, one of the most intelligent, sexiest conjurers of magic the country has ever seen, Silva is one of the under appreciated, less-shiny stones on Man City&#39;s crown. Missed a large part of the season with personal problems but when on the pitch played better than he ever has. 2. Mo Salah (Liverpool) Credit: PA What a season. Glimpses of Messi-skill, an Ian Rush-like talent to be in the right place at the right time and a player who has inspired the entire city of Liverpool, let alone the club, throughout the season. Most goals in a 38-game @PremierLeague season… 3️⃣2️⃣ MOHAMED SALAH 3️⃣1️⃣ Luis Suarez 3️⃣1️⃣ Alan Shearer 3️⃣1️⃣ Cristiano Ronaldo Congratulations, @MoSalah! �� pic.twitter.com/oY3DK7Hhxy— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 13, 2018 Salah is a ridiculous talent who, if he can maintain the form in the World Cup and for Liverpool next season, should be considered up there with the world&#39;s elite. Goals scored Premier League But there is another... 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS Simply put, De Bruyne has been the best all round player in the best ever Premier League team. He embodies everything special about Guardiola&#39;s 100-points-winning style of football, makes unbelievable passes, scores incredible goals, is determined, driven, inspirational, hits wonderstrikes with both feet and... well... what more could you want? An assist 4 minutes into added time means that the incredible Kevin De Bruyne is the winner of the 1st @CadburyUK Playmaker award#PLAwardspic.twitter.com/odgxB7XcOT— Premier League (@premierleague) May 13, 2018 The Belgian scored eight goals and assisted 16 others with some of those being match-deciders. His workrate off the ball has been exceptional, some of the passes he makes are out of this world and he doesn&#39;t even seem to be better on one particular foot. If he plays like this at the World Cup De Bruyne could light the tournament on fire.
Babbello Index: the 50 best players in the Premier League 2017/18
The Premier League season is finished! And what a time we had. Goals, assists, tackles... interceptions! There's not much more we could have really asked for and here we have ranked the 50 best individual players to have performed in over 20 games in an entertaining 10 months of football. Based on statistics, form, consistency, ability and what we've observed with our own eyes, here are the best 50 players in the Premier League for the 2017/18 season. 50. Glenn Murray (Brighton) There were some - really - who suggested that Murray might be a decent outside bet for a place in England's World Cup squad after scoring 12 goals in 35 games for Brighton, but the less said about that the better. An old-style number nine, Murray is a clever player and a bit of a throw-back to ye olden times. Useful, but his all-round game isn't quite to the standard of an international star and his TV must suffice for all things Russian this summer. Credit: GETTY IMAGES That said, Murray had a fantastic season, proving especially adept at offering Chris Hughton's team an out-ball, winning 115 aerial duels. 49. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Divides opinion, doesn't always track his runner and is liable to pick up a booking for 'accidentally' mistiming tackles, but the stats don't lie and Arsene Wenger certainly seems (seemed) to rate the Swiss midfielder. Xhaka played 38 Premier League games for Arsenal in 2017/18, making more passes than any other player (3117) and having more touches. Premier League passes Not really a holding player, nor a creative attacking one, his stats represent those of an all rounder, and although the things he does badly are easily picked up on, Xhaka's range of passing, anticipation, and ability to shoot from long range are all superb. Also assisted seven goals for his teammates. 48. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Huddersfield did a remarkable job in not only ensuring safety on their return to the English top flight, doing so with a solid base, and alongside defensive partner Mathias Jørgensen, Schindler has formed a formidable duo. Schindler has been one of the standout players outside a top six club, making 75 interceptions this season - the fourth most of any player in the league - and winning 61 tackles. 47. Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) Credit: PA Appears to have gone under the radar all season despite delivering some excellent performances. Doucoure scored seven goals - the same as Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud - and assisted three in his role in the Watford midfield, winning tackles, making neat passes and keeping things tidy in front of the defence. Seriously underrated. 46. Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle) At 24 years old, Lascelles is the captain of a team punching above their financial weight, leading an uninspiring group of players to a top-half finish. Credit: GETTY IMAGES A reliable, determined defender, he seems to make those around him better and conceded only 16 fouls all season, while winning 18 tackles - Lascelles' reading of the game is his best trait, as evidenced by that extremely low number. Should be in the England squad before too long. 45. John Stones / Vincent Kompany (Man City) Credit: ACTION PLUS An unprecedented shared position in the Babbello Index, but one necessary considering both players were good enough to be included but neither cleared the 20 game mark. Having cut out the lapses of concentration that previously undermined his game, Stones enjoyed a hugely impressive first half of the season before Kompany stepped in. Man City's charismatic Belgian centre-back proved inspirational as the team powered their way to 100 points. 44. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Chelsea's Mr Consistent (not his real name) hasn't quite been at his best this season, but he still rarely puts in a bad performance. Positionally sound, deceptively quick and with an unerring ability to read danger, Azpilicueta is one of the Premier League's most complete defenders. And at a time when uncertainty reigns at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta's reliability is a welcome constant. 43. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Ozil's languid style may disgust all self-respecting 'Proper Football Men', but four goals and eight assists from 26 Premier League starts is a reasonable return. Chances created per game (including assists) It sounds better when you consider he created 84 chances from 26 games - the fourth most of all league players, and at 3.49 chances created per match, the second most prolific chance creator in the country, behind only Cesc Fabregas. Ozil also became the quickest player to register 50 Premier League assists (141 games), breaking a record previously held by Eric Cantona, while his volley against Newcastle was one of the goals of the season. 42. Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of few slight positives in a woeful season for Stoke, Shaqiri scored eight goals and assisted seven more, accounting for 43 per cent of his team's total all on his own. If his pals at Stoke knew where the back of the net was, that'd be even better - Shaqiri created 77 chances, the same as Alexis Sanchez. 41. Kieran Trippier (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES If you had been told a year ago that Spurs' defence would no longer include Kyle Walker, Danny Rose or Toby Alderweireld, few would have foreseen them finishing third in the table. Trippier has played a crucial role, holding off Serge Aurier's challenge to become Tottenham's first choice right-back, while also staking a very strong claim to start at the World Cup. His improvement has been drastic, and he has been one of the Premier League's best right-backs this season. 40. Willian (Chelsea) Willian scores against Crystal Palace Credit: REUTERS Technically-gifted, hard-working and the model professional, Willian is a joy to watch and has been Chelsea's most consistent and reliable player across the entire season. Lacks a little in end product (he scored six Premier League goals and added seven assists) but managers love him for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Created 62 chances, level with Mo Salah and one more than David Silva, despite starting a large amount of games on the bench. 39. Antonio Valencia (Man Utd) Has fully completed his conversion from winger to full-back while also developing his role as a leader on the field. Scored one of the goals of the season against Everton back in September and his attacking nous gives Man Utd real bite down that right flank. 38. Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Didn't quite hit the heights of his title-winning debut campaign but did establish himself firmly as one of the Premier League's best left-backs, helping provide solid foundations that allow Eden Hazard more freedom on that side of the pitch, while also adding to his own goal tally, hitting seven goals for the season, including two match-winners and two more that rescued Chelsea a point. 37. Davinson Sanchez (Spurs) Davinson Sanchez with his new shirt Credit: GETTY IMAGES Sanchez arrived at Tottenham with the weight of a £42m price tag on his shoulders, but he rose to a challenge that even he wouldn't have foreseen, as Toby Alderweireld got injured and fell out of favour, Sanchez was thrust into the first team. He has a great deal to learn and still makes the odd mistake but at just 21 years of age his potential is absolutely vast. Spurs needed a big character in tough times and Sanchez stepped up, making 38 interceptions and winning 73 aerial duels and 24 tackles. 36. Emre Can (Liverpool) Credit: OFFSIDE Seemingly nearing the end of his four-year spell on Merseyside, the midfielder has been out of action since suffering a back injury in March. The 24-year-old scored three goals in 24 Premier League goals this term, assisting four others. The German has retained his ball-winning presence and calm authority in the centre of the park. He will be sorely missed if he has played his last game for Liverpool. 35. Alvaro Morata (Chelsea) The Spaniard may well be teaming up with Liverpool's Can at Juventus next season if the transfer whispers prove correct. Morata started well but found the going tough at Stamford Bridge, seeing Olivier Giroud leapfrog him in the pecking order too in the final weeks and struggling with injury at the turn of the year. Credit: GETTY IMAGES Morata's 11 league goals have cost Chelsea £6.36m each this season... but when he's on form, few defenders can keep pace with him and his movement and positional sense were what first attracted Antonio Conte to the striker. Powerful in the air, Morata's lack of composure in front of goal and loss of form cost him dear. 34. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) Two months out with a knee injury and watching how quickly record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang settled into life at the Emirates must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the Frenchman. All in all, 14 goals from 32 league games including four assists has been a solid debut season in England and one to build on under the new manager. 33. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) Ramsey was named captain in Arsene Wenger's last Arsenal match Credit: GETTY IMAGES Named captain for Arsene Wenger's final ever match as Arsenal guvnor, the midfielder can often squander his defensive duties such is his willingness to get on the frontfoot. What the Welshman lacks in his aerial and defensive abilities he more than makes up at the other end. The 56 shots on goal from just 24 league games is evidence of his attacking instinct in a team often blamed for trying to walk the ball into the net. 32. Gabriel Jesus (Man City) Scorer of City's winner which took Pep Guardiola's side to the 100-points mark, the Brazilian has been a solid and consistent performer. Gabriel Jesus celebrates scoring the goal which earned Man City their 100 points tally Credit: AFP A goal-poacher of the highest proportions - he rarely if at all shoots from outside the box - the 21-year-old just needs to add composure to his game when getting in behind defences and could quite easily become one of the most lethal forwards around. 31. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The Algerian marginally recovered from an unsettling January transfer window where a move to Manchester City broke down on deadline day. Mahrez struck just three goals in the final 13 matches but at least grafted for Claude Puel in terms of tracking back and helping win back possession. His thirst for taking on opposition backlines never dwindled either. 30. Paul Pogba (Man Utd) Credit: PA At his best, absolutely brilliant. At his inconsistent worst, ineffective and a drag on his teammates. Sees the game like few others, can beat anyone with the ball at his feet but has had a tendency to not fulfill defensive duties. Officially he made 10 assists but a good few of those were short passes to a player who then dribbled past defenders and hit a t op corner wonderstrike. Needs to produce more but Pogba is so close to being one of the world's great midfielders. 29. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea) Hasn't had quite the same impact as he did for Chelsea last season but made 85 interceptions, more than anyone else in the league. Premier League Interceptions He's a machine off the ball but has been made to do more with it at his feet this season. Kante can play but his best trick is that ability to snap at defenders and ping around the opposition midfield like a pinball evading a wasp. 29. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Vardy ended the season as the fourth top scorer, hitting the back of the net 20 times. When you consider he's only behind Mo Salah, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero and plays for a midtable side, that is an incredible feat. He can usually be found smashing the ball past the goalkeeper after breaking the offside trap but there's far more to his game than the tenacious hunting he's known for - Vardy's amazing goal on the volley against West Brom required instinctive vision and breathtaking technique to execute and was a highlight of the season. 27. Pascal Gross (Brighton) Gross has been like a more effective budget version of Mesut Ozil, creating an incredible number of chances while playing for relegation threatened Brighton - he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Scored seven goals and assisted eight, having created 82 chances, which puts him sixth highest of any Premier League player. Premier League Chances created 26. Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea) Created more chances per match than any other player and in total, created 90 chances, the third most in the league. Strangely, only four of those turned into assists and Fabregas' return of two goals isn't stellar either. Still a high quality central midfielder, Fabregas is no longer at his peak and looks to have slowed and dropped back to a deeper quarter-back role. 25. Dele Alli (Spurs) Credit: OFFSIDE Didn't perform near his best for most of the season but came alive in the closing parts and looks ready to go for the World Cup at exactly the right time. Despite looking like half the player of last season, Alli assisted 10 goals and scored nine himself. He was also fouled 84 times, the third most of anyone in the Premier League. 24. Ederson (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES The missing piece of the puzzle, Ederson's calm cool under pressure turned Man City into a team with 11 outfield players. The Brazilian can often be seen near the halfway line intercepting long balls, his vision and ability to spot a pass to beat a high press is second to no other goalkeeper in the world and he is incredibly agile, flinging himself to all corners to deny scoring chances. Premier League Clean sheets Why is he only number 24? Well, it's just that outfield players do more - kind of why Manuel Neuer hasn't won the Ballon d'Or. Crucially, Ederson's command of the area and sheer dependability mean the Man City back four (or three) can trust him to clear up any mistakes and keep those quick passes going with a safety net behind. An incredible find. 23. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) Already looks like one of, if not the best left-backs in the league, since signing from Hull Robertson has been a revelation. He runs all game long, is tenacious in the tackle and his delivery from wide is superb, assisting five goals in only 22 games - one more than Eden Hazard. Andy Robertson is currently chasing the Man City team bus along the M62... #Relentless#LIVMCI— Ben Nicol™ (@BenNicol23) January 14, 2018 One action in his performance against Man City will be remembered for years, as the defender chased the ball and just about everyone on the pitch all the way back to the goalkeeper before sprinting back to his own half. What a player. 22. Nemanja Matic (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Man Utd's most consistent performer. It looked like Matic's partnership with Pogba could be the start of something special early in the season but as that stopped and started, Matic was the one to bring real class to the centre of the Man Utd midfield. Made 2488 passes - the sixth most in the league - and helped his team keep 16 clean sheets. A defensive shield. 21. Son Heung-Min (Spurs) Credit: CAMERASPORT A striker, winger and inside-forward, Son brings a bubbling, positive influence to the squad and is highly technically gifted with the ball at his feet. He scored 12 goals and assisted six in 37 games and will be exciting to watch at the World Cup as the star of the South Korea team rather than sniping from inside Harry Kane's shadow. Who looks good ahead of the World Cup? 20. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City) With the most touches of any defender and most passes too, it's safe to say that Otamendi's involvement in Man City's buildup play is fairly important. He's strong, anticipates well and is commanding in the air, winning 79 aerial duels, winning 43 tackles and making 48 interceptions. Also scored four goals and represents a threat from set pieces. 19. Romelu Lukaku (Man Utd) Credit: OFFSIDE Apart from a rather large lull between October and mid-January, Lukaku scored fairly consistently in his debut season at United but critics remain over his impact in big games and, with 16 league goals to his name he has arguably under-performed. However, he did come up with a fair few important strikes and he also has developed his hold-up play, too. Has played an important role for Jose Mourinho. 18. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) An amazing footballer. Zaha can go past three players at once with ease, turns as if gravity has no effect on him and has added to his game, taking defensive responsibility and showing determination and leadership on the pitch. Premier League Dribbles completed With him, Crystal Palace are a threat, without, they'd be relegated. 17. Jan Vertonghen (Spurs) Credit: ACTION PLUS Dependable, organised, puts in tough tackles, anticipates danger and wins almost every aerial duel he goes into (118 times this season), Vertonghen has been exceptional at the heart of Spurs' defence. 16. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) This wasn't Hazard's best season by any stretch of the imagination but it speaks volumes about just how good he is that he was still one of the Premier League's better performers. Credit: GETTY IMAGES He could and possibly should have done better than his 12 goals and four assists, but even more noticeable has been the effect of the Belgian's absence from the side. Chelsea fans will be desperately hopeful that they don't have to deal with his absence on a more permanent basis next season. 15. Mousa Dembele (Spurs) There was a period this season when Dembele looked utterly unstoppable: he could not be tackled, handing opponents off like a rugby player while turning in impossibly small circles, seemingly capable of winning a physical battle with just about anybody. How Mousa Dembele became the Premier League's most complete midfielder That this period coincided with Tottenham's best run of form is no coincidence, and he would be higher up this list had he been able to start more than 21 games. 14. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) £75m seemed like an awful lot of money for a central defender but there is not a Liverpool fan who regrets the fact their club shelled out most of the money recouped from Philippe Coutinho's sale on Van Dijk. He has shored up a shaky defence that probably wouldn't have made the Champions League final had he not arrived but the Premier League is all important here - his debut goal in the Merseyside derby was pretty memorable. Premier League aerial duels won For comparison, Shane Duffy won those duels in 37 matches, Van Dijk in 26. 13. Christian Eriksen (Spurs) Credit: GETTY IMAGES One of only four players (and one of only two outside Manchester City) to hit double figures for goals and assists in Premier League games this season, Eriksen has continued to improve under Mauricio Pochettino's guidance. Few work as hard as Eriksen and possess his technique and vision, and he never shies away from the big occasion: the Dane scored this season against Man City (twice), Man Utd and Chelsea. 12. Kyle Walker (Man City) Credit: AP Has elevated to a position as one of the world's leading right-backs under Pep Guardiola, and has ended up looking a fantastic signing despite costing more than £50m last summer. Six assists from right-back is a decent tally, and he showed his versatility recently for England when moved in to a central defensive position and has spent much of the season in central midfield and right wing positions for Man City. 11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) Credit: AFP A slow start to the season had some critics labelling Mane the Ringo Starr of Liverpool's 'Fab Four', but since a lean spell in October and November he has been sensational. Skillful, pacy and with a knack for scoring in the biggest games, Mane has been an integral part of Liverpool's thrilling front-line this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting seven. 10. David De Gea (Man Utd) Credit: GETTY IMAGES After another brilliant season De Gea has become the first player in Manchester United's history to win the fans' player of the season four times. The Spaniard kept 22 clean sheets in all competitions (a personal best) but the Babbello Index is Premier League only - a good job then that De Gea topped the tables there too with 18. He also made a Premier League record-equalling 14 saves in a stupendous performance away at Arsenal. Save per centage Where on earth would United would be without him? 9. Raheem Sterling (Man City) Credit: OFFSIDE Previously so erratic in front of goal, Sterling morphed into something of a dead-eyed finisher this season (that miss at Burnley aside) and can lay claim to being the Premier League's most improved player. A return of 18 goals and 11 assists from 33 Premier League matches is a magnificent return, and almost as encouraging has been Sterling's much-improved link-up play. 8. Sergio Aguero (Man City) Credit: GETTY IMAGES Aguero will be remembered as one of the great Premier League strikers but he's not finished yet! With 21 goals from 25 games, Aguero's record suggests that had he avoided injury he could well have pushed Harry Kane and Mo Salah to the wire for the Golden Boot. Scored three hat-tricks - the most of any player. 7. Leroy Sane (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Best young player in the world? Scored one of the goals of the season, his first touch is so good it's as though it was sent to earth from a power upon high, he's faster than Nigel Mansell (in a car, in the 90s), and able to wriggle his way through packed defences and create from nothing. Sane is not only a reliable source of chance creation but a key part of buildup play and - most importantly - a game-changer. Telegraph Sport's Premier League goals of the season 6. Fernandinho (Man City) Credit: REUTERS Pep Guardiola's avatar. Everything goes through Fernandinho: he organises, made the second most passes per game of any player in the league and the third highest number of successful passes in the opposition's half and anticipates danger minutes before it h